With the foul line still their best friend, the New Mexico Lobos beat a ranked team and won the Paradise Jam basketball tournament in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, on Monday.
UNM didn't shoot well from the floor but was a perfect 21-for-21 from the foul line and beat 23rd-ranked Connecticut 66-60. New Mexico is unbeaten at 4-0 and has a good chance of moving into the national rankings next week. The Lobos have outscored their opponent at the foul line in every game this season.
The Huskies, who dropped to 3-1, had a 55-53 lead with two minutes to go. Down the line, UNM outscored the Big East team 13-5. In the rally, Hugh Greenwood hit a 3-pointer and scored on a layup, Chad Adams scored on an offensive rebound and Tony Snell hit four free throws.
New Mexico's Kendall Williams was voted the tournament's MVP and Snell was chosen all-tournament. But Greenwood was probably the star in the title game. The sophomore guard from Australia had 12 points and led UNM in rebounding with seven.
The Lobos did not shoot well. They started the game by missing their first nine shots and finished by shooting just 39.6 percent. But they worked hard on defense and at halftime New Mexico was on top 30-27.
Their perfection at the foul line made up for it. Junior Cameron Bairstow had made 18 of 20 free throws this season for 90 percent.
``Our shooting percentage again wasn't great, but the big shots went in,'' said Williams. ``I just wanted to carry some leadership with this team. I'm happy for us. This is a great win.''
Greenwood was happy with the outcome. ``I'm doing whatever I can to win. As the game goes, my confidence improves.''
UNM head coach Steve Alford wore a broad grin after the game. ``I thought we really guarded. Our program has done a lot in a short time, but we've never won a holiday tournament. It is great to get a holiday tournament in our resume. This means a lot to beat a nationally ranked team.''
``I thought that was our best 40 minutes,'' Alford continue ``A trip like this brings out of weaknesses. To win three games and find weaknesses we need to work on at the same time is good.'
The Lobos play Idaho Friday night in the Pit.