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    Men's Hoops Knocks Off No. 14 Purdue

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Evan Eschmeyer led NU to a<br>54-50 win over No. 14 Purdue
    Evan Eschmeyer led NU to a
    54-50 win over No. 14 Purdue

    January 27, 1999

    AP Sports Writer

    EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) - Evan Eschmeyer got most of his points and rebounds in the first half Wednesday night. Then, in the closing seconds, it was his mere presence that meant the most for Northwestern.

    The 6-foot-11 Eschmeyer, playing with four fouls, forced a bad shot by Purdue's Brian Cardinal and the Wildcats hung on for their biggest victory in years, 54-50 over the 14th-ranked Boilermakers.

    "We should be winning these games. This is not a fluke," Eschmeyer said after scoring 17 points - 13 in the first half - and grabbing 14 rebounds - nine by half - to become the school's career rebound leader.

    "This is what we are supposed to do. The national rankings don't mean that much. We thought coming out we were better than them. They're a great team and we'll probably meet them again the conference tournament," Eschmeyer said. Right now, however, the Boilermakers (15-6, 3-4) aren't a great team.

    They've lost three of four and are having problems scoring, especially against a team like Northwestern, which leads the nation in field goal percentage defense (36 percent).

    "I just missed a shot," said Cardinal, who was1-for-11 from the field, part of Purdue's 33 percent shooting (20-of-61). "I don't think Evan tipped it, I just missed it. We just didn't play like we were ready to play. We have to have more emotion."

    Freshman Steve Lepore got the rebound after Cardinal's miss and hit two free throws with three seconds remaining to seal Northwestern's victory, its first over Purdue in the last 10 meetings and only second in the last 30.

    The surprising Wildcats are 12-5 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten. They've also beaten nationally ranked Minnesota on the Gophers' home floor.

    In close games, the Wildcats are learning how to win under the relentless coaxing and criticism of coach Kevin O'Neill.

    "In past years we would not have had enough. But we're confident enough now that if we are close at the end, we will pull it off," Eschmeyer said.

    "Yeah they're different," Purdue coach Gene Keady said of the Wildcats. "They got the best big man in the conference and one of the best in the country along with (Stanford's) Tim Young. ...We were not very good offensively and they were good on defense and shut us down."

    Eschmeyer moved past Kevin Rankin, who led Northwestern to the NIT in 1994. Rankin had 885 rebounds for his career, eight more than Eschmeyer entering the game.

    Three-pointers by Danny Allouche and David Newman, who also finished with 17 points, gave Northwestern a 10-point lead with four minutes left. But the Wildcats couldn't put it away.

    Alan Eldridge banked in a 3-pointer and Jaraan Cornell hit another following a block by Eschmeyer as Purdue pulled within 52-47 with 3:13 left.

    That set up a wild finish.

    After Eldridge forced a five-second call, the Boilermakers nearly had a shot-clock violation. But Cornell, who led Purdue with 15 points, grabbed teammate Mike Robinson's desperation air-ball jumper and acrobatically laid it over his head to make it 52-49 with 1:55 left.

    Northwestern turned it over but Cornell missed a jumper, Eschmeyer rebounded and then missed the free throw before fouling Eldridge on a drive with 39 second left.

    After Eldridge hit the first and missed the second, Northwestern led 52-50 and had the ball.

    Eschmeyer lost the ball at the other end, but Purdue couldn't clear and Wildcats freshman Tavaras Hardy intercepted a pass and was fouled with 20 seconds to go.

    But he also missed from the line, giving Purdue another chance before Cardinal put up a weak shot from the baseline.

    Northwestern led by as many as 16 in opening half and was up 32-20 at halftime. The Boilermakers, behind Cornell, then started the second half with an 11-2 run.