Creighton shoots lights out after starting game with 3-point barrage to leave Georgetown in the dark

WASHINGTON — Toby Hegner knew he was going to get some open jumpers Saturday.

That’s the luxury of Creighton’s offensive system, in which spacing and ball sharing stress even the stingiest defense. Plus, Hegner watched film of how Marquette’s versatile bigs gave Georgetown fits last week — popping along the perimeter after setting screens or spotting up deep where their teammates drove it.

So the 6-foot-10 senior made sure to get a few extra shots between practices these past few days. He couldn’t let his chances go to waste.

Hegner took advantage. He matched a career-high with five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points in a 90-66 victory at Georgetown. It was CU’s first win inside the Capital One Arena since joining the Big East.

“My teammates found me in the right situations and at the right times,” Hegner said. “And when one goes in, it makes it a lot easier for the second, the third, and maybe the fourth.”

Before Saturday, Creighton had a rather woeful track record behind the arc on its trips to the nation’s capital.

The Bluejays put together their worst long-range performance in coach Greg McDermott’s tenure there last year, when they made 1 of 18 3-pointers in a 20-point defeat. They’d shot a combined 21.5 percent from 3-point range in their four previous trips to Georgetown.

Hegner (0 of 7) had never made a 3 in this arena. Junior Khyri Thomas and senior Marcus Foster both went 0 for 4 from long range last year.

But they didn’t talk about the past. They just prepared for a matchup that they thought played in their favor.

Junior Davion Mintz rose up and dropped in a 3-pointer after Foster found him open on the game’s first possession. Then Hegner hit one. Then Mintz. Then Hegner.

It was 12-3 after three minutes. Creighton used a 17-3 run late in the first half — a surge that featured three 3s from Hegner and one from Foster — to stretch a 10-point advantage to 45-21 when Mintz completed a three-point play at the 1:18 mark.

The Jays cruised from there, leading by as many as 31.

“We made some shots,” McDermott said. “It’s kind of a make-shot, miss-shot game sometimes.”

And the Hoyas couldn’t get the confident shooters out of their rhythm.

Creighton opened the game by trying to isolate 6-10 center Jessie Govan in space. Hegner would set a ball screen, then find some room along the 3-point line. Govan, required to slow the ball-handling guard turning the corner and attacking downhill, couldn’t get back in time to Hegner.

The Hoyas tried a zone — but the Jays shot their way out of that defense pretty quick. CU knocked down a couple in transition before Georgetown could get organized. Mintz buried one at the end of the shot clock in the second half, when he pulled up with a hand in his face. That triple made it 68-40 with 12:50 left.

Creighton’s 36 3-point attempts — it made 44.4 percent of them — were the most in a game since firing up 39 at North Texas three seasons ago.

But the Jays were just reacting to the defense. The Hoyas protected the paint well, but they were vulnerable along the perimeter Saturday.

Five guys on the court who can shoot? It’s a difficult matchup for anyone, Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing said.

“They’re just one of the teams that do it and do it well,” he said. “They space you out, they cut, they move. They move the ball extremely well.”

CU was at its best Saturday.

Foster drove into the paint, attracted defenders and kicked the ball out for jumpers. Mintz dribbled around ball screens, setting up the Hoyas with well-timed hesitation moves before delivering passes on the money. The Jays got looks with ball reversals and set plays, too.

Creighton’s 24 assists matched its second most in the Big East. The Jays assisted on 20 of their first 22 field goals. Fourteen were 3-pointers — CU made 17 of its first 27 from long range.

“It’s hard to beat us when we shoot this well,” Hegner said. “We just played Creighton basketball. We found the open man and the shots went in.”

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