Dec. 27, 1997

Boilermakers Hold on for Sixth-Consecutive Win

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Experience paid off in a big way for Purdue.

Purdue (11-2), which lost an eight-point lead midway through the second half, used Brian Cardinal's layup with 31 seconds remaining Saturday to beat Providence 81-79 for its sixth-consecutive victory.

Brad Miller demolishes Ben Perkins' shot attempt as Llewellyn Cole looks on.

Jaraan Cornell led Purdue for the third consecutive game with 21 points. Cardinal finished with 20 points and Brad Miller added 16 points and nine rebounds. Cardinal and Cornell are sophomores.

"We have a lot of weapons on our team, and it just happened tonight that Jaraan and I stepped up," Cardinal said. "It was an up-and-down game. We weren't as ready to play in the beginning. We showed a lot of poise and courage down the stretch.

"We had a lot of heart toward the end of the game. Our shots weren't falling as well as we needed and we weren't ready to play in the beginning."

Ben Perkins led the Friars (4-4) with 23 points. Jamel Thomas added 19 points, Kendrick Moore had 15 and Llewellyn chipped in 10.

"I'm proud of our team," Providence coach Pete Gillen said. "We played very well against a hall-of-fame coach in Gene Keady in a tough environment.

"I was disappointed we didn't win. We had our opportunities and couldn't get stops when we needed them.

"Cardinal killed us. He's a great player. He reminds us of a college version of John Havlicek with his diving, shooting 3s, taking a charge and giving out the assist.

"This is the best team that I can remember he's (Keady) had. If his team listens to him and they keep improving, then they have a chance to go to the Final Four."

Chad Austin, Purdue's leading scorer with a 19.1 average, was limited to eight points. It was second time this season Austin failed to reach double figures.

Austin scored only four points in Purdue's 73-69 loss to No. 1 North Carolina.

Austin was battling a sinus infection the past two days.

"We thought it would be like the Xavier game and it was," Keady said. Purdue had built a big lead early in the second half before staging a valiant effort in the closing minutes to beat Xavier 86-84.

"Sometimes your players don't believe in what you tell them. Maybe they did today. Providence just played better than we did."

Cornell scored 15 points in the second half and Cardinal added 12. Keady was most pleased with the last five minutes.

"We played with good spirit," he said. "We did what it took to win the game.

"We won the game, which was a positive. We hit some big free throws when we needed to."

After Cardinal's basket with 31 seconds remaining, Providence had a chance to tie it with 10.3 seconds left. But Corey Wright's driving layup shot sailed over the backboard. Purdue lost the ball with 7.3 seconds left, but the Friars couldn't convert.

The Boilermakers led by as many as nine points in the first half and held a 37-29 halftime lead.

Providence battled back from a 57-49 deficit midway through the second half to lead 75-73 after Moore's two free throws with 2:19 left.

Brad Miller scored and was fouled on a layup with 1:53 left. Miller missed the free throw but Cardinal rebounded and was fouled. Cardinal hit both free throws to give the Boilermakers a 77-75 lead with 1:52 remaining.

Moore hit two free throws at the 1:21 mark, before Cornell nailed two free throws to give Purdue a 79-77 edge with 1:07 left.

Thomas countered with two free throws with 51 seconds left to tie it 79-79.