DePaul ended its three-game losing streak Tuesday a monumental, 82-61 win against No. 20 George Washington at Allstate Arena. The victory was the Blue Demons’ first at home against a ranked team since Jan. 3, 2008, when they upset No. 17 Villanova.
DePaul led from start to finish Tuesday, opening on a 10-0 run. The lead climbed to 18 points with 7:38 until halftime when senior forward Myke Henry dropped the hammer on George Washington forward Tyler Cavanaugh for an and-one dunk.
Although Henry roused the crowd with his slam, he also earned a technical foul afterward for jawing with Cavanaugh. George Washington showed a bit more life after that play as it trimmed the lead to 36-22 with 5:33 left in the first half.
The Blue Demons responded well with five unanswered points to push its lead to the largest of the period at 19 points. However, a 7-0 run by the Colonials brought their halftime deficit down to 12 points. They had not been that close since the 10:33 mark.
DePaul struck first in the second half with a layup by freshman guard Eli Cain. The Blue Demons built their lead back to 19 points when junior guard Darrick Wood drilled his only 3-pointer of the night with 15:20 to play.
George Washington chipped away and closed within 62-47 with 9:55 remaining, but buckets on back-to-back DePaul possessions from junior point guard Billy Garrett Jr. and Henry ended the Colonials’ realistic hopes of a comeback on the road.
DePaul’s lead reached as many as 23 points in the closing minutes.
“I kept waiting for them to counterpunch, and they did a couple of times,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “I thought we stayed solid. Over the course of 40 minutes, we made many, many more plays that were winning plays.”
A staple of George Washington’s program of recent years has been its frontcourt. This season, 6-foot-10 senior Kevin Larsen and Cavanaugh, a 6-foot-9 junior, are the Colonials starters up front.
Larsen and Cavanaugh led George Washington in scoring Wednesday, but DePaul’s interior defense forced them to do so at a rate less efficient than usual.
While Larsen scored the ball well with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds, DePaul also forced him into five turnovers. Cavanaugh had 14 points but shot just 3-of-8 from the field. The Blue Demons also limited Cavanaugh to one rebound, more than six below his season average.
George Washington got to the foul line a ton as usual, shooting 24-of-27 there. But when DePaul defended without fouling, George Washington had trouble scoring. The Colonials shot 33.3 percent from the field and made 3-of-21 (14.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
“I thought we stayed in front of guys,” Leitao said. “We didn’t allow too many clean drives to the basket.”
Meanwhile, DePaul torched George Washington with 55.4 percent shooting and eight 3-pointers. Leitao thought his team got good looks at the basket as a result of ball movement.
“We kept them playing a half pace behind,” Leitao said. “When the ball moves faster than the body, then you can have driving lanes, you get open shots, people foul you more. I thought that’s what we did today. And it got us more confidence, and when you have more confidence you make more shots.”
Garrett led the Blue Demons with 20 points and seven assists while Cain had 16 points. Senior guard Aaron Simpson had a balanced output with 15 points, four assists, two steals and five rebounds, an impressive feat for the 5-foot-11 player. Henry added 11 points and nine rebounds.