NEW YORK, N.Y. – Greg Williams Jr. drained his seventh 3-pointer from right in front of the St. John's bench, springing delirious teammates onto the court as he bounded into their arms during a timeout.
With an out-of-character shooting display from all over the gym, the Red Storm handed No. 10 Creighton a thorough beating that was hard to see coming.
Williams made seven 3s and scored a career-high 21 points as St. John's slowed down the streaking Bluejays in a 91-71 rout Sunday that marked its most lopsided win over a top-10 opponent in 28 years.
“St. John's was terrific,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “When you get outscored by 30 on the 3-point line in somebody else's building, it's hard to win.”
Rasheem Dunn had 19 points and a career-high 10 assists for the Red Storm (15-14, 4-12 Big East), who stopped a three-game skid. LJ Figueroa added 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Julian Champagnie scored 13.
One of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the country, St. John's went a season-best 14 of 22 (64%) from long range in its biggest victory under first-year coach Mike Anderson. It was the school's first win over a top-10 team at Carnesecca Arena on campus since beating Bernard King and No. 7 Tennessee in December 1975.
St. John's plays many of its high-profile home games at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s amazing when you make shots and that ball goes through the hole, it just energizes your whole team,” Anderson said. “It’s good to see us put 40 minutes together."
Damien Jefferson equaled a career best with 20 points and Ty-Shon Alexander scored 19 for the Bluejays (22-7, 11-5), who had won five straight and nine of 10.
Creighton could have captured its first Big East championship by winning its final three regular-season games, but now needs help after falling two games behind first-place Seton Hall with two to play.
“We had some decent looks at the basket from guys that are shooting a really high percentage on the year and today they didn’t go in,” McDermott said. "All the credit to St. John’s, they were really good.”
St. John's was up six with 7:05 left before taking total command with a 14-0 run that sent the crowd into a frenzy and included four straight 3-pointers, two by Williams.
The sophomore guard, making his seventh start of the season, entered averaging 4.6 points per game. His previous career high was 11, and he began the day with 15 career 3s — including 12 this season.
“My teammates were just finding me," Williams said. “When we go and play for each other, play together, things like that can happen."
Williams' seven 3-pointers matched the most by a St. John's player in a Big East game.
“He was in the zone,” Anderson said. “When a guy is in the zone, what do you do? You find him. And he delivered.”
Creighton guard Marcus Zegarowski, the reigning conference player of the week, was held to five points on 1-for-10 shooting. Zegarowski, who was averaging 16.1 points, matched a Big East record by going 7 for 7 from deep on the way to 25 points in a blowout win over Butler a week earlier.
Creighton entered ninth in the country in 3-point shooting at 38.5%, with three players making 40% or better — all ranked in the top five in the Big East. But the Bluejays missed their first nine attempts from long range and finished a season-worst 4 for 27 (15%).
“We were just causing chaos, and that’s what we do," Williams said. "Pressuring the ball and getting after it makes people uncomfortable.”
With the Red Storm a little short on the bench, senior walk-on Justin Cole played 4:37 and drew a big ovation when he sank a jumper in the first half of his final game at Carnesecca Arena for his third career field goal and first points all season.
“He gets out there and gives us a deflection, a stop and then he makes a bucket,” Anderson said. "We needed him because we had some guys in foul trouble and guys needed rest.”
Cole was a two-year captain just down the road at Archbishop Molloy High School, the alma mater of former NBA stars Kenny Anderson and Kenny Smith.
Creighton: The surprising Bluejays hadn't allowed more than 83 points in a game all season. Picked seventh in the Big East preseason poll, they had been playing about as well as anyone in the country since mid-January, so this dud was certainly unexpected.
St. John's: Since a Feb. 12 victory in Queens over surging Providence, it had been a struggle for the ninth-place Red Storm against top competition without second-leading scorer Mustapha Heron. The senior guard had surgery for a right ankle injury that has ended his college career.
"We’ve been going through a lot so it feels good to get this win,” Figueroa said.
WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?
St. John's entered shooting 30.4% from 3-point territory, 307th out of 351 teams in Division I.
DOWN AND OUT
St. John's big man Josh Roberts left early with an arm injury and didn't return. He played only 26 seconds.
Creighton: Host eighth-place Georgetown on Wednesday night before a Saturday showdown at home with No. 13 Seton Hall. The Bluejays lost 83-80 at Georgetown on Jan. 15.
St. John's: Plays at Butler on Wednesday night before finishing the regular season Saturday against Markus Howard and Marquette at MSG. St. John's erased a 23-point deficit in the second half against then-No. 11 Butler on New Year's Eve, only to cough up a late lead in a 60-58 loss.
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