Scores

Final

Louisville 73

(14-7, 2-6 Big East)

(4) Villanova 79

(16-2, 7-1 Big East)

7:00 PM ET, January 30, 2006

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1 2 T
LOU 38 3573
#4VILL 43 3679

Top Performers

Louisville: T. Dean 23 Pts, 1 Reb, 7 Ast

Villanova: A. Ray 26 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

Cardinals struggle in Big East, lose to Wildcats

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- There was one thing everybody wanted to talk about after No. 4 Villanova's 79-73 victory over Louisville on Monday night.

It wasn't that the win let the Wildcats match their best start in the Big East. It wasn't that the loss dropped the Cardinals to an almost unimaginable 2-6 in their first season in the conference.

The topic of conversation was a six-minute stretch in the first half when 3-pointers were as abundant in the Wachovia Center as mustard-covered pretzels.

"It was fun for us. For Louisville to be hitting 3s like that, it wasn't that fun," said Allan Ray, who matched his season high with 26 points. "For us to be hitting it, it felt pretty good. Coming down on the other end and giving it up was kind of a bad feeling right there."

In a 3 spree that would be hard to match if there was no defense being played, both teams hit nothing but 3-pointers for a span of 5:54 in the first half.

Villanova made seven 3s and the Cardinals had five in the long ball run and nine of the shots accounted for a lead change.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino, one of the best in using the 3-pointer to his team's advantage since the line was set at 19 feet, nine inches for the 1986-87 season, said "not really" when asked if he could remember a back-and-forth long-range shootout for that long a span.

"They get up so high on their 3s and they spread you," Pitino said of Villanova. "Jay makes a mockery of everything I try to do statistically against the 3-point shot."

Villanova coach Jay Wright seemed disappointed and impressed with his team's game.

"We're pretty defensive-minded and when you look at Louisville's shooting percentage and the 3s they hit, you feel terrible about how you played," he said. "Then you look that we had 14 3s and that's unbelievable. That was just an incredible college basketball game with two outstanding offensive teams drilling big shot after shot."

The Wildcats (16-2, 7-1) twice seemed to have control of the game with a double-digit lead but the Cardinals (14-7, 2-6) pulled close twice before losing for the fifth time in six games.

As usual, Villanova relied on its four guards for most of its offense. Mike Nardi had 20 points, Randy Foye added 19, all but two in the first half, and Kyle Lowry had eight. They came into the game accounting for 79 percent of the Wildcats' points and the four had all but five of the points in the 72-70, last-second win over Notre Dame on Saturday.

"That's just what we do. That's how we play. That's our system," Ray said. "Until somebody decides to stop us guards, then we'll continue to do that. Once they do stop us or we have an off night, we have guys that we can go inside too. A lot of people don't think we have an inside game."

Villanova started 7-1 in the Big East in 1982-83.

Taquan Dean had 23 points and seven assists for Louisville, which was ranked seventh in the preseason poll and reached as high as No. 4 during the season but fell out of the Top 25 on Monday.

"When Taquan is playing we're a pretty good team," Pitino said, referring to the three games Dean missed with a sprained ankle. "We're young and we have a great future but I have to instill that the future is now and not next year. If we play like we did tonight we'll be all right."

Dean agreed.

"We'll be OK," he said. "We'll get the young guys going and get this losing streak stopped."

Villanova had an 11-point lead in the first half that Louisville cut to five at the half. The Wildcats again used the 3-pointer, they finished with 14, to pull away to a 63-48 lead, but the Cardinals chipped away by going inside and they got within 70-69 with 3:40 to play on a basket by David Padgett, who had 15 points.

Ray made two free throws and scored on a layup before Foye scored on a putback with 1:45 left that made it 76-68.

Villanova finished 14-for-26 from 3-point range, while Louisville was 12-of-23 in what started out like a long-range shootout and became an old-fashioned inside game late.

Ray and Nardi each had five 3s, Nardi getting two of his -- and three free throws when he was fouled in the act -- in the 13-0 run that made it 63-48.

"I was just letting it fly. Every shot felt good, and it was the right shot which made it feel even more comfortable," said Nardi, who turned 21 on Monday. "I kind of got it going."

Dean was 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and the Cardinals shot 55.8 percent overall (29-for-52), a huge improvement over their season-low 33.9 percent in Saturday's loss at Rutgers. They ended a run in which they shot less than 40 percent in five straight games.

"Our guys did a great job tonight," Pitino said. "I was upset at Rutgers because it was a slow tempo and we made mistakes at the end.

"We are not at all thinking negatively. The glass is more than half full for us. We are staying positive with positive energy."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
LOU
VILL
Points 73 79
FG Made-Attempted 29-52 (.558) 25-57 (.439)
3P Made-Attempted 12-23 (.522) 14-26 (.538)
FT Made-Attempted 3-8 (.375) 15-21 (.714)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 16 (0/0)
Largest Lead 4 15

2005-06 Season

DATEGAMELINKS
Jan 5, 2006 VILL 76, @LOU 67Recap
» Jan 30, 2006 @VILL 79, LOU 73Recap