LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Peyton Siva scored 16 points and Louisville beat Villanova 84-74 on Wednesday night to return to .500 in the Big East after a rough start to conference play.
Siva was brilliant late when the Cardinals (16-5, 4-4) needed him most. He made a turnaround jumper from 15 feet to give the Cardinals a 73-67 lead with 2:56 left, then made two sharp passes on the next two possession that led to points, including Jared Swopshire's 3-pointer in the corner that made it 78-70 with 1:09 left. He hit two free throws with 57 seconds left that iced it.
Villanova (10-11, 3-6) rallied from a nine-point first-half deficit to lead by as many as six, but went cold in the second half as its modest two-game winning streak ended.
Big East player of the week Maalik Wayns scored 19 points after being saddled with foul trouble early in the second half and going to the bench with nearly 18½ minutes to play.
Louisville got contributions from all over. Chris Smith, Kyle Kuric and Chane Behanan scored 14 points apiece and Gorgui Dieng chipped in 12 points and 13 rebounds.
After trailing by five at the half, the Cardinals took their first lead of the second half on a free throw by Siva and a 3-pointer by Smith that made it 50-46. The Cardinals stretched it to 61-51 at the midway point of the half.
Wayns, who had scored 92 points in his previous three games, returned and ended Villanova's drought of more than 4 minutes without a field goal. The Wildcats went on an 8-0 run, capped by Mouphtaou Yarou's three-point play, to cut Louisville's lead to 63-61. Yarou finished with 10 points and JayVaughn Pinkston added 12 rebounds.
But Villanova never got over the hump despite 14 points by James Bell. Up by two, Dieng hit two free throws and Kuric added two more to make it 71-67 with 3:02 to go as the Cardinals hit 10 of their final 12 free throws to end it.
Siva hit his key shot to stretch the lead to six and the Cardinals closed out the game hitting 10 of their final 12 free throws.
After taking a 44-39 halftime lead, Villanova struggled with Louisville's defense and shot 30.3 percent in the second half.