Creighton sinks Big East record 21 3s, routs Villanova
PHILADELPHIA — The nation’s second-best 3-point shooting team showed its long-range prowess Monday night.
In just its seventh game as a member of the Big East, Creighton set a Big East record, pouring in 21 3-pointers en route to a 96-68 blowout of No. 4 Villanova at the Wells Fargo Center.
Senior forward Ethan Wragge led the Bluejays with a career-high 27 points on 9-for-14 shooting, all from behind the 3-point arc. Wragge knocked down eight treys in the first half, scoring 24 points in the opening 20 minutes.
“Our first offensive play of the game I got a pretty good wide-open look, and it felt really good coming off,” Wragge said. “My teammates do an unbelievable job of, once I get one, they know that I’m hunting for two and three. It’s a hard feeling to describe once you get one to go in, but you just kind of let it fly and don’t think about it.”
The nation’s second-leading scorer, Creighton senior forward Doug McDermott, scored 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the floor, including 5-for-8 from behind the arc. Bluejays senior guard Jahenns Manigat chipped in 19 points on 6-for-7 shooting, including 4-for-5 on 3-pointers.
The Wildcats (16-2, 5-1 Big East) were led by senior guard James Bell, who scored 19 points. Junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston finished with 11 points, and junior guard Darrun Hilliard added 10 points for Villanova.
The Bluejays (16-3, 6-1) connected on their first nine attempts from the field, all 3-pointers, to take a 27-8 lead just 6:05 into the contest. Six and a half minutes later, a 3-pointer from guard Isaiah Zierden put Creighton up 47-19.
“That was one of the more incredible things I’ve ever been a part of as a coach,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “The way Ethan shot the basketball, the way our guys shot the basketball, and probably equally important is the way we defended the first seven or eight minutes that allowed us to create some separation early.”
For the half, the Bluejays shot 14-for-22 (63 percent) from behind the arc and 19-for-32 (59 percent) from the floor in all.
“This is a game, you got to have fun with it,” Doug McDermott said. “That’s what you saw out there to start the game, just a lot of guys having fun, and it kind of carried over the whole game. I’m really proud of us after what happened in Providence to come up against one of the best teams in the country and be able to play like we did.”
The Wildcats fought back and ended the half on a 22-7 run, capped off by a Hilliard drive and finish just before the buzzer, sending Villanova into halftime trailing 54-41.
That was as close as the Wildcats would get, as Creighton opened the second half on a 20-4 run in the first eight minutes of the second half to put the game out of reach for good.
The Wildcats trailed by as many as 41 points with 5:33 to play.
“They were outstanding,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said of the Bluejays. “We’ve had some games where we haven’t been on top of it, but we didn’t execute well defensively. They executed extremely well offensively, and they were just really on top of their game. Getting behind a team like that, the way they move their ball and with their quickness, was really tough to overcome.”
The Bluejays shot 33-for-58 (56.9 percent) on the night, including 21-for-35 (60 percent) from long distance. The Wildcats connected at a 39.7 percent rate (23-for-58). Creighton recorded 25 assists on its 33 baskets, while Villanova had 11 assists.
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