The Villanova Wildcats basketball team was riding high. They were 16-1, in sole possession of first place in the Big East conference and had achieved their highest ranking since 2010.
Then, Creighton came to town.
The Blue Jays used one of the best 3-point shooting performances in recent college basketball memory to convincingly dismiss the No. 4 ranked Villanova Wildcats 96-68. The win improves Creighton’s record to 16-3 as the Wildcats fall to 16-2. The victory also pushes Creighton back into sole possession of first place in the Big East.
The minute the ball was tipped, the Blue Jays lost all consciousness. Creighton started on a 21-5 run in the first five minutes. During that initial run, the Blue Jays shot 7-8 from the field and every single basket was a 3-pointer.
Ethan Wragge was far and away the story of the game for Creighton. Wragge led all scorers with a career-high 27 points, all from 3-point range. Wragge shot 9-14 from behind the arc and, as unbelievable as it may seem, did not attempt a single 2-point field goal. With the nine 3-pointers, Wragge tied Kyle Korver’s Creighton record for most three-pointers in a single game.
As a team, Creighton shot 60% from 3-point range. The Blue Jays seemed to find open opportunities from behind the arc almost the entire game. This was mostly due to consistent drives into the lane that occupied two to three Villanova defenders seemingly every time. This drive-and-dish formula led to 21 threes as a team, a Big East record. To put into perspective how many trey balls Creighton hit, consider that Villanova only made 23 total field goals as a team.
After falling into huge hole early, Villanova successfully stepped up its defense and offensive production momentarily, cutting the deficit down to as little as 8 in the early second half. This momentum was short lived, as Creighton took total control from that point on and cruising to an easy victory.
James Bell was one of three Wildcats in double digits, leading all Villanova players with 19. JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard also reached the double-digit plateau, finishing with 11 and 10 points respectively. The Cats seemed shell-shocked by Creighton’s early prowess from 3-point range, and were never really able to develop any offensive or defensive consistency. They had to spend much of their energy just to get back in the game, and then Creighton took advantage of the fatigued Villanova team to pull away.
This game was one that Villanova will want to forget about as soon as possible. The Wildcats will get that chance with a big-time, nationally televised road test against the hungry and desperate Marquette Golden Eagles on Saturday. Creighton, on the other hand, will not have much time to reflect as they return home to Omaha against the Georgetown Hoyas on Saturday.