W. Michigan 81, Loyola of Chicago 71
TAMPA, Fla. (AP)
Darius Paul, Austin Richie and Brandon Pokley added 14, 13 and 10 points, respectively, for Western Michigan (2-1).
Ben Averkamp paced Loyola-Chicago (2-1) with 24 points. Matt O'Leary added 14 points, and Jordan Hicks scored 13 for the Ramblers.
The game featured seven ties and 14 lead changes before Hutcheson scored six unanswered points to spark a late surge.
"You're not going to count on the kid to go for 30 every night, but you want to play some offense through one of your senior's hands," Broncos coach Steve Hawkins said.
Hutcheson finished 8 of 13 from the floor and missed only twice in eight attempts from long range. He made 8 of 12 from the free-throw line, where Western Michigan held a 20-12 scoring advantage.
"That was basically the game," Hawkins said.
His counterpart could not have been more impressed with the only returning Broncos starter.
"We went up against a possessed senior," Ramblers coach Porter Moser said. "Nate Hutcheson had one of those senior performances that you don't want to see as an opposing coach. His toughness just permeated their whole team. It was a great credit to that kid."
Western Michigan led 38-37 at halftime with 13 points and five rebounds from Hutcheson. Averkamp gave Loyola its only lead before the break, hitting a pair of free throws with 5:49 remaining.
Averkamp opened the scoring in the second half with a short jumper from the lane then crumpled to the court in pain. He returned about 5 minutes later with his right ankle wrapped.
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for Loyola against Mid-American Conference opponents, including three against Western Michigan.