Creighton forward Ethan Wragge triggered a second-half comeback by making a pair of game-turning 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions and the Bluejays held off pesky Louisiana-Lafayette to record a 76-66 victory in Friday’s NCAA Tournament game at AT&T Center.
Wragge, who made 4 of 8 shots from behind the arc, had plenty of help from Doug McDermott (30 points, 12 rebounds), the nation’s leading scorer, in helping Creighton advance to Sunday’s game against Baylor, a 74-60 winner over Nebraska in another West Region game in San Antonio.
Creighton, the No. 3 seed in the West, trailed 50-48 with just over 11 minutes remaining when Wragge struck for a pair of long-distance connections within a 44-second stretch to give the Bluejays a 54-50 lead they did not relinquish. When Louisiana-Lafayette (23-13) closed a seven-point deficit to four with 2:27 remaining, McDermott responded by scoring seven of the Bluejays’ eight points in a game-clinching 8-0 run in the final 2:06.
McDermott extended the lead with a 3-pointer, followed with a layup less than a minute later and added a pair of free throws with 31 seconds remaining that gave Creighton its largest lead, 76-64, in a back-and-forth game. Cajuns guard Elfrid Payton (24 points, eight rebounds) carried most of the offensive load for ULL in a game that featured seven lead changes.
“We’re thrilled to get the victory,” said Creighton coach Greg McDermott, Doug’s father. “As we’ve seen, the last couple of days have been a lot of crazy things that happened in this tournament. When we got behind in the second half, Ethan hit a couple of big threes. That got us going. These guys desperately wanted to get back and have an opportunity to advance to the Sweet 16.”
With the victory, Creighton extended its school-record streak of consecutive seasons with at lease one postseason victory to seven. The Bluejays have won at least one game in each of its past three NCAA Tournament appearances, just like Baylor.
Wragge, who was only 1 for 6 from the field before starting his game-turning salvo, connected on his final three shots from the field — all from behind the arc — in Creighton’s closing surge.
“They were timely,” Wragge said. “They were all good.”