MILWAUKEE — The way Marquette tried to guard Ethan Wragge on Wednesday night didn't differ drastically from what the Creighton senior has been seeing from opposing defenses.
With one notable exception. The Golden Eagles lost Wragge in transition a couple of times early during the 85-70 loss at the Bradley Center, and wound up paying for those mistakes.
Wragge, who had made two 3-pointers in his past three games, had three before Wednesday's contest was 6 minutes old. Two of his early bombs came in transition as Creighton geared up its offensive intensity from the start.
“I thought our transition game got back to where it should be tonight,” said Wragge, who made 6 of 8 shots from beyond the arc in scoring 22 points. “That's what we have to do if teams are going to lock onto us in the halfcourt.
“When we get on a run is when we're at our best on offense.”
Wragge's first 3-pointer came after Jahenns Manigat, who also has found open looks hard to come by in recent games, put down his first two 3-pointers.
“They were trying to clog things up for Doug,” Wragge said. “I thought me and Jahenns did a good job early of being aggressive. We were searching for shots.”
Marquette limited Creighton forward Doug McDermott to eight points in the first 20 minutes but he exploded for 17 in the second half.
“I didn't get off to a crazy good start tonight,” McDermott said. “Their defense was real physical with me, but that opened up shots for Ethan and Jahenns. Just because I'm not scoring 15 points in a half doesn't mean it's a bad half.”
Point guard Brooks comes up big
Creighton got a big lift from backup point guard Devin Brooks on a night when starter Austin Chatman sat as much as he played.
Foul trouble — Chatman picked up two in the first 6:16 of the game and then got whistled for his third 62 seconds into the second half — limited the junior to 20 minutes. He still managed to score 10 points, including knocking down a crucial 3-pointer during Creighton's decisive run late in the game.
Brooks played 23 minutes and finished with eight points, six rebounds and three assists. He also avoided making a turnover, which often has been one of the problem areas in his game.
“We needed Devin tonight,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “I thought the combination of him and (Isaiah) Zierden in the first half allowed us to hang in there without Austin and actually make some strides.
“Devin is such a good rebounder from that guard position, and there's no better way to start our transition offense than with a defensive rebound by your point guard. He also made some great decisions, got to the basket and scored some.”
Eagles look to rebound from loss
Marquette had bounced back from a 74-59 drubbing at St. John's on Feb. 1 to win its next three games. How the Golden Eagles rebound from Wednesday's loss, coach Buzz Williams said, could ultimately influence how this season is remembered.
“I feel different after losing to Creighton than I did in our last loss to St. John's,” Williams said. “I thought we competed and our guys gave great effort. Creighton is great.
“How we responded to the St. John's loss and how we respond to this loss, we'll see. But we better have the same response.”
The loss left the team that was picked to win the Big East in the preseason with a 15-11 record and a 7-6 mark in league play. The Golden Eagles play three of their final conference games on the road, but do get Georgetown and St. John's at home in the stretch run.
Fouls add up for both teams
Williams cut short a question about how the officiating impacted Wednesday's outcome.
“Next question, please,” he said.
The officials called 22 fouls on Marquette, including 14 in the second half. Deonte Burton finished with four fouls, while five teammates had three each. Creighton was whistled for 30 fouls, and had starting guard Grant Gibbs foul out while Chatman and Will Artino each picked up four.
“I'm not sure we've had 30 fouls called on us in my four years at Creighton,” Greg McDermott said. “It was one of those games that was physical and they tried to control. It was two teams playing pretty hard.”
Bits and pieces
Doug McDermott pushed his career total to 2,888 points, passing Tyler Hansbrough and basketball Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes on the NCAA's scoring chart. McDermott now sits at 11th, 26 points behind Alfredrick Hughes. ... The win was Creighton's first in Milwaukee since March 2, 1988. It was the Bluejays' first visit there since they played the Golden Eagles in the 1998 NIT. ... Creighton had blocked one shot in its past eight games but finished with four, including two by Gibbs. ... The Bluejays have made 86 of 146 shots (58.9 percent) in winning their last three games. ... Greg McDermott could live with his team getting just one offensive rebound and getting outscored 15-2 in second-chance points. “We wanted to get our transition defense set because Marquette is very dangerous in that regard,” he said.