15 straight foul shots advance Purdue

Cornell's 3 free throws with 43.7 seconds left defeat Sooners, 66-62

West at Tucson, Ariz.

Ncaa Tournament

March 19, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

TUCSON, Ariz. -- For the second time in as many games, Jaraan Cornell shook off a rough first half and starred in the second to lead Purdue, this time to a 66-62 win over Oklahoma yesterday.

Thirteen of Cornell's 15 points came in the final 9: 27, including three free throws that broke a 60-60 tie with 43.7 seconds left.

"We were stale; I was stale," Cornell said. "Coach said we needed someone to step up and make defensive plays and someone has to make offensive plays."

At one point, Cornell -- who scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half of Thursday's win over Dayton -- scored eight straight points for the Boilermakers (23-9) when Oklahoma (27-7) was in a position to take control. Then, he was fouled by Kelly Newton while taking what appeared to be an off-kilter three-point attempt.

The three free throws gave Purdue a 63-60 lead, which was cut to one point on two free throws by Hollis Price with 35.1 seconds left. But then Rodney Smith hit the last of 15 consecutive free throws to put Purdue ahead, 65-62, with 21.3 seconds left.

Oklahoma's attempt to tie the game with a three-pointer went awry when Price's pass inside was knocked away by Mike Robinson. The play sent the Boilermakers to their third consecutive regional semifinal appearance, somewhat atoning for the team's second straight first-round exit from the Big Ten tournament less than two weeks ago.

"I was happy with the team's courage and the way they played gutsy basketball," Purdue coach Gene Keady said. "Too bad someone had to lose, it was a great finish to a game that I hope the [Oklahoma] kids know they played good."

As expected, the game was more bump-and-grind than flash-and-dash with both teams of the physical sort. The leaders of both teams -- Purdue's Brian Cardinal and Oklahoma's Eduardo Najera -- both played the final minutes with four fouls; each team shot below 50 percent.

Accordingly, the scoreboard changed grudgingly in the early going despite the efforts of Purdue's Greg McQuay -- who had eight of his team-high 16 points in the first half -- and Najera, who had 10 of his 15 points in the first 20 minutes.

Oklahoma players said the difference was in the little plays Purdue made all game -- plays the Sooners made all season.

"It was a lot of loose balls that we didn't get to, a lot of unforced turnovers," Raymond said. "And we didn't hit our free throws [8-for-15]. That dictated the game."

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