Senior Day a party for the Cardinals

The University of Louisville basketball program held a sweet going away party for seniors Peyton Siva and Mike Marra and (perhaps) junior Gorgui Dieng on Saturday. The Cardinals ran away from Notre Dame 73-57 at the KFC Yum! Center and in the process laid claim to part of the Big East regular-season title.

Peyton Siva stood near center court at the KFC Yum Center on Saturday evening with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face.

"Wow," the University of Louisville senior point guard said before addressing the crowd of 22,815 after he played his final home game.

Siva thanks the crowd, the fans, his teammates and his family before ending the speech by calling up junior backcourt mate Russ Smith to help him lead a ‘C-A-R-D-S' cheer with the entire building.

"The fans show us so much love, it's so great to see," Siva said.

The fans were also treated to the love he and his teammates were shown by the Siva family – which was about 30-plus in attendance.

Peyton Siva Sr., and relatives filed out onto the court with leis – a family tradition according to the younger Siva – that were covered in candy. Each player, coach and staff member received one and the younger Siva was covered with them.

"They kept covering me with leis and I kept telling them I couldn't see or breath," Siva said. "It was great and it's part of our tradition. They did it my senior night in high school too, so it's fun.

Oh, and the game was fun too.

The Cardinals – after losing to the Irish last month in five overtimes – left no doubt and sent Siva and others out in style. Senior Mike Marra and junior Gorgui Dieng also went through Senior Night festivities.

U of L coach Rick Pitino said the injured Marra – the honorary head coach – sat in the first seat on the bench "did a good job in the timeout situation."

Siva, who is now second on the school's all-time steals list, hit 5 of 9 from the field for 13 points, five assists and four rebounds.

The four-year standout made his final basket at home off an assist from Chane Behanan with 1:30 left and then left the game with 1:08 remaining to a standing ovation and the chant "S-I-V-A."

"It was great," Siva said of the day. "The fans are special and show us a lot of love, so it was fun to get a win for them. My family being here, that meant a great deal. My brother and sister drove two days from Seattle.

"It was just a special day."

Siva has already had a special career and hopes it continues. Pitino said he couldn't tell a story about Siva during the ceremony because he was starting to get "too emotional" talking about his team's leader.

"I have been involved in a lot of Senior Nights," Pitino said. "A lot of special ones, but this one was really special. It's been so much fun coaching a person that has never had a bad day."

Siva waited until the end to thank Pitino during his speech on the floor, noting he "has called me a lot of names, but I wouldn't be where I am today without him and I love him so much."

"I learned after my freshmen year, it's not the way he is saying it to you but what he's saying," Siva said. "You have to listen to the words rather than the way he is yelling at you. I am so thankful for him every day."

Dieng, who was 8 of 11 from the floor, finished what could be his last home game with 20 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and three steals.

The 6-foot-11 junior has one more season of eligibility left but Pitino wanted him to go through Senior Night because: "I think he's going to be a first round draft pick and if he's in the first round he needs to go."

At the end of the game, the crowd chanted, "One More Year."

"People can say whatever they want," Dieng said. "At the end of the day, we all know the truth. We don't have to worry about it right now.

He went on to say he's four classes from graduation.

"It took me three years to get me to where I am at today," he said. "I am not going to blow this free education now. I will graduate."

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