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Williams helps Louisville slip past Villanova

Jan 10, 2009 - 9:32 PM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Terrence Williams scored on a drive to the basket with 7.9 seconds remaining Saturday as 21st-ranked Louisville edged No. 17 Villanova, 61-60, in a grueling Big East encounter.

After Williams put the Cardinals on top, the Wildcats squandered a number of chances to win in the final seconds.

Antonio Pena missed two free throws with 4.9 seconds left and, after the Cardinals lost the rebound out of bounds, Dante Cunningham was unable to convert inside and a tip also rolled off the rim as time expired.

"A typical Big East game," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "It would have been a shame for us to lose because we've worked so hard the last two weeks."

A 70 percent free-throw shooter, Pena went just 1-of-6 from the line over the final 4:43.

Villanova, which made its final 18 free throws in an overtime win at Seton Hall on Tuesday, went just 18-of-29 from the line in this one.

"Right now this game kills you," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We'll wake up tomorrow, watch the tape and we'll feel good about ourselves. If all the games are like this I'll be happy as long as we get our share."

Williams collected 10 points, 13 rebounds and six assists for the Cardinals (11-3, 2-0), who led most of the way.

Cunningham scored 21 points and Pena 14 for Villanova (13-3, 1-2), which led for less than three minutes in the game.

After the Wildcats battled back from 11-point deficits in each half, Cunningham put his team on top for the first time when he swished a jumper from the left baseline with 3:11 remaining for a 58-57 edge. Neither team led by more than one point thereafter.

The Cardinals were able to eke out the win despite playing the final 4:43 without talented freshman Samardo Samuels, who scored 15 points before fouling out.

Samuels scored eight of his points in the first 11 minutes of the contest as the Cardinals raced to a 22-11 lead.

However, the Wildcats dug in defensively, holding the Cardinals scoreless for more than 5 1/2 minutes in an 11-0 surge to tie the game.

Louisville responded with a 12-4 burst to close the half, capped by Andre McGee's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Earl Clark, who scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, made a jumper in the lane with 12:42 left to give the Cardinals a 47-36 lead. But the Wildcats again responded, slowly chipping away before Cunningham's shot put them on top for the first time.

Louisville's tenacious defense helped offset a woeful 3-of-25 performance from 3-point range.