PHILADELPHIA — Ethan Wragge let the 3s fly, and helped the records fall.
Wragge tied a school record with nine 3-pointers for all 27 points, Doug McDermott hit five 3s and scored 23 points, and Creighton set a team mark with 21 3-pointers in a 96-68 victory over No. 4 Villanova on Monday night.
Wragge only surprised Villanova, not his teammates.
“I’ve seen him shoot better in practice,” McDermott said. “I’ve seen him hit 11 or 12 3s in an open gym, that’s normal. So not a lot of us are shocked. The outside world, everyone’s kind of shocked. But that’s just another day at the office for Ethan.”
The Bluejays (16-3, 6-1 Big East) topped the school record of 20 3s set in 2005 against Chattanooga. Kyle Korver hit nine 3s against Evansville on Jan. 15, 2003. The Bluejays, in their first year in the Big East, set a conference record for most 3s in a game and beat a top-five team for the first time since 1970.
“Once I get one, they know I’m hunting for two and three,” Wragge said. “It’s a hard feeling to describe once you get one to go in. You just kind of let it fly and don’t think about it.”
The Bluejays hit their first nine 3s and never looked back against Villanova (16-2, 5-1) which had romped its way toward its highest ranking in four years. They made 21 of 35 3-pointers and led by as many 41 points.
Wragge hit eight 3s in the first half and Creighton built a 28-point lead.
“By three or four, I kind of knew where I was at,” he said.
Wragge, who finished 9 of 14 from 3-point range, tied Korver’s record with his ninth 3-pointer with 13:59 left for a 68-45 lead. McDermott followed with his third 3 and Austin Chatman hit one the next time down for the stunning 29-point lead.
“It’s tough to beat a team that hits 21 3s,” McDermott said.
The Bluejays refused to slow down from 3-point range, with McDermott’s fourth 3 extending the lead to 30 and making them 19 for 31.
Oh, and Creighton had 19 3s at the same time Villanova had 16 total field goals.
McDermott, the two-time All-America, tied Creighton’s team record with 20 3s not long after, sending the crowd at the home of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers fleeing for the exits.
Jahenns Manigat hit Creighton’s record 21st 3-pointer to make it 88-50 with 7:33 left. He made four 3s and scored 19 points.
Somehow, this was the same Creighton team that never led in an 81-68 loss at Providence on Saturday. The Bluejays made only four 3s in the loss.
“Providence did a better job sticking with Wragge and not leaving him,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
It was the worst loss in Wright’s 13 seasons at Villanova.
The Bluejays beat a ranked team for the first time since 2007 and a top-five team for the first time since Jan. 29, 1970, against No. 5 New Mexico State.
“That was one of the more incredible things I’ve ever been a part of,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.
The Wildcats played with their highest ranking since they were No. 3 on Feb. 15, 2010. They are not going to stay No. 4 for long.
Villanova might want to work on defending Wragge in the Feb. 16 rematch.
James Bell scored 19 points for the Wildcats while JayVaughn Pinkston added 11 and Darrun Hilliard had 10.
“We don’t pay attention to any of the rankings,” Hilliard said. “We just focus on each other.”
They should have put more focus on Wragge. He took all of six shots this season inside the 3-point arc, and with good reason. He’s rarely missed from long range.
Against Villanova, the 49-percent 3-point shooter didn’t miss at all, at least on his first seven attempts. His seventh 3 put the Bluejays up 27-8 just 7½ minutes into the game. With McDermott running into double teams, Wragge was all alone, even hitting one in front of Villanova’s bench without a defender within 2 feet of him. Even with the hot hand, Wragge hit the bench for a spell — maybe he had a tired arm — to rest up from all those 3s.
“They came one right after another,” Bell said.
Wragge’s teammates picked up the slack. McDermott, Manigat and Isaiah Zierden each hit two 3s and Creighton finished the first half a whopping 14 of 22 (64 percent) from beyond the arc. Creighton’s season high had been 16 against Chicago State on Dec. 29.
McDermott had his usual solid game, shooting 8 of 13 with five rebounds in 28 minutes.
“He hit five 3s, but it’s all the passes he makes from inside, the attention he demands,” Wright said. “He’s a joy to watch. You don’t like it when he’s doing it to you.”
The Bluejays couldn’t quite keep their 150-point pace game going and Villanova used a 16-3 run to pull to 54-41 at halftime.
The Wildcats, who used early season wins over Kansas and Iowa to crack the poll, had no second-half comeback in them this time. The Wildcats had made themselves quite at home at the Wells Fargo Center, beating three Top 25 teams there last season en route to the NCAA tournament.
“We want to compete for first in this league,” Wragge said. “It’s a huge opportunity for our team and we had to step up to the moment.”