GAME NOTES: As part of the South Florida Invitational at the USF Sun Dome, the Western Michigan Broncos will square off with the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks.
In the first game of the three-day tournament the Broncos topped Loyola- Chicago 81-71, to move to 2-1 on the young season. Western Michigan has won back-to-back games after an 85-40 defeat of NAIA foe Marygrove at home last Tuesday, which followed up a 63-55 road loss to Cornell in the season opener. Western Michigan will face host South Florida on the final day of the event.
MD-Eastern Shore's season has yet to earn the Hawks a win after a 78-59 loss to host South Florida on Friday night. The loss just added to the Hawks' woes which have included a 76-64 setback to Hawaii, a 70-55 loss to Houston Baptist and a 62-52 loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff. In the final game of the three-day event the Hawks will battle Loyola-Chicago.
This matchup marks the first between these two squads.
Western Michigan had its hands full, especially in the first half against Loyola-Chicago and led by just a point (38-37) at halftime after connecting on 13-of-24 shots from the floor. In the second half the Broncos were able to pull away on the back of 59.1 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes. Nate Hutcheson was sensational in the contest with 30 points, while falling a rebound shy of a double-double.
Hutcheson has gotten off to a fast start for the Broncos this season. His 17.7 points per game average is by far the best on the squad while he is also consistently bringing down rebounds (5.7 pg). Hutcheson has been particularly deadly from beyond the arc (8-of-17). Three other players are scoring in double figures for the Broncos this season led by Darius Paul (11.0 ppg) who has played well in major minutes as a freshman. Center Shayne Whittington (10.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg) has been a consistent threat to post a double-double this season for the Broncos who have had a strong inside presence early on. Brandon Pokley (10.0 ppg) is another solid shooter from beyond the arc (7-of-16) while Austin Richie (6.7 ppg, 3.3 apg) has run the point well.
Poor first-half shooting did MD-Eastern Shore in against South Florida. The Hawks managed just six field goals in the first 20 minutes on 23 attempts (26.1 FG percentage). Ronald Spencer (14 points, 7 rebounds) and Troy Snyder (12 points, 7 rebounds) were the only two players on the team that seemed to have any success on offense with the pair combining to hit 10-of-17 shots. The rest of the squad connected on 8-of-38 from the floor.
Offensive struggles have plagued MD-Eastern Shore this season. The Hawks are scoring just 57.0 points per game while shooting at a 33.0 percent clip through the first four games. Although it is early, both of those numbers are near the bottom of the nation. The Hawks rely heavily on the trio of Spencer, Snyder and Kyree Jones. All three are playing more than 28 minutes per game with no other play on the roster at more than 22 minutes per contest. Jones (14.5 ppg) is the top scorer and also runs the offense, tying for a team-high with 12 assists (3.0 pg). Jones has the ability to shoot from beyond the arc but has hit only 7-of-30 shots from distance. Spencer (8.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Snyder (9.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) have powered the frontline. Off the bench Dominique Cowell has played the most minutes but has been much more productive in distribution (3.0 apg) than in scoring (4.5 ppg).
The battle on the frontline could prove to be intriguing. However although Spencer and Snyder have been productive, the Broncos have more skill up and down the roster.
Game Date and Time