The Huskies, who entered the game ranked 21st
in the AP poll
and 23rd in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, trailed by as much as
10 in the
second half but battled back, taking a 60-59 lead on a trio of
free throws by
Ryan Boatright with 2:23 left in the game.
But sophomore point guard Hugh Greenwood
answered with a
trey of his own to spark UNM’s final run. The Lobos hit all four
of their free
throws in the final 39 seconds as part of a school record 21 of 21
from the charity stripe.
“I like the fight in this team,” said UNM head
coach Steve Alford. “I think we won this championship at the free-throw line.
(free-throw shooting) is emphasized. But the guys have to get
there first and
then make them. We're making them. We set a school record
Greenwood added 12 points and seven rebounds
for New Mexico
(4-0). Tony Snell
added 11 points
and Alex Kirk scored 10 points and pulled in four rebounds. Cam
off the bench to add eight points and six rebounds.
Shabazz Napier led Connecticut (4-1) with 23
including 13 straight Husky points during one second-half stretch.
added 12 points and Omar Calhoun 10.
The two teams battled back and forth in the
first half as
neither team was able to find its shooting stroke. New Mexico shot
just 8 of 24
in the half (33 %), but was flawless at the free-throw line,
shooting 11 of11.
UConn held and early 6-2 lead then led 23-17 the Lobos launched a
10-2 run to
grab a 27-25 lead. Snell hit a 3-pointer to end the first-half as
UNM took a
30-27 lead into halftime.
The Lobos opened the second half on a 9-2 run,
lead to 39-29 but Napier led UConn back and the Huskies took their
only lead of
the game at 60-59 before UNM rallied for the win.
“Any time, before Thanksgiving, you can have
three wins away
from your place, that's huge," Alford said. “It was great. We beat
national ranked team in the third game in four days. We showed
some of our
depth and I like how we guarded. We know we have a lot of
weaknesses and we
have to get home and work on those weaknesses over the holidays.
“But this win makes the long trip home tomorrow
very, very nice,” said Alford.
New Mexico outrebounded UConn 30-20 and the
outscored the Huskie reserves 18-4. The Lobos reserves – Bairstow,
Adams, Jamal Fenton, Nick Banyard and Cleveland Thomas – combined to shoot 5 of
9 from the
field, 8 of 8 on free throws and combined for 10 rebounds, 3
assists and 2
steals in 57 minutes of play. Fenton scored UNM’s first four
points of the