Curtis Sumpter scored 10 points and Scottie Reynolds had 10 assists as Villanova (15-7, 4-5 Big East) snapped a two-game losing streak with a win the Wildcats sorely needed if they want to crack the top half of the Big East standings.
Earl Clark led the Cardinals (16-7, 6-3 Big East) with 14 points while all four of their double-digit scorers failed to reach that mark. Terrence Williams, Juan Palacios, David Padgett and Edgar Sosa were all non-factors, combining for only 24 points.
Sosa, who averaged 11.2 points, didn't get going until it was too late. He scored his first bucket on a layup with 39 seconds left that pulled the Cardinals to 55-50 and hit 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left that made it 57-53. But it wasn't enough and the Cardinals snapped a four-game winning streak.
The Cardinals never led until Williams hit a 3-pointer early in the second to make it 30-29. After a small Villanova run, Williams evened it at 34 after another 3-pointer, making his only minor contributions.
Clark and Reggie Redding hit consecutive 3-pointers for Villanova that snapped a tie game and gave them a 45-39 lead.
Padgett, averaging 10.1 points, scored only his second basket with 5 1/2 minutes left in the game to bring the Cardinals within one.
But the Wildcats finally created some space on the scoreboard. Sumpter sank all three free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt and Reynolds hit a 3-pointer to give Villanova a six-point lead.
Williams missed an easy running layup and Padgett tossed the ball away on the next possession. The Wildcats took advantage of the turnover when Reynolds made one of two from the line. Sosa was off on another driving layup, leaving the Cardinals down six with 1:16 to go.
The Wildcats opened a 15-5 lead before they hit a brutal dry run. They missed 12 straight field goals over an 8-minute span late in the first half and were helpless as the Cardinals came back to tie it at 18-all with 1:31 to go. Sumpter, though, shook off a slow start and made consecutive baskets to give Villanova a 22-20 lead at the break.