One big thing that hurt the Wildcats (10-11, 3-6) was junior guard Maalik Wayns' picking up two fouls within a six-second span in the first 1 minute, 41 seconds of the second half. The Big East player of the week, who had averaged 30.7 points in his previous three games, sat out nearly nine minutes before returning. When he went to the bench, Villanova was leading, 44-42. When he came back, the Wildcats were trailing, 61-51.
"It doesn't help. It definitely doesn't help," Wright said of Wayns' foul trouble.
"We did a lot of good things. We wanted to draw charges on him," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said of Wayns.
Led by Wayns late, the Wildcats rallied, cutting the Cardinals' lead to two twice, but they couldn't get closer.
Wayns' rebound basket off his own miss trimmed Louisville's lead to four, at 73-69, with 2:32 to play. However, on the Cardinals' ensuing possession, reserve forward Jared Swopshire drove the baseline and fed center Gorgui Dieng for an easy inside basket. Then, after Dominic Cheek missed a three-pointer, Swopshire struck again, this time hitting a three-pointer from the corner as the shot clock was about to expire.
That gave Louisville (16-5, 4-4) a 78-69 lead with 1:12 remaining. The Cardinals sealed the game at the free-throw line, hitting 6 of 8 from the foul line in the final 57 seconds and 20 for 26 in the second half.
"They did a good job of getting to the foul line," Wright said, "the little things that good teams do."
Villanova led, 44-39, at halftime but had fallen behind by nine points early in the game before rallying.
Junior guard Peyton Siva led a balanced Louisville attack with 16 points.
The Wildcats host Marquette at noon Saturday.