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ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — DePaul coach Dave Leitao said he kept waiting for No. 20 George Washington to counterpunch on Tuesday night.
Instead, the Colonials went down early and never rallied, dropping an 82-61 decision to the Blue Demons.
"That was my worry at halftime," Leitao said. "I said they hadn't thrown their best punch yet. But over 40 minutes, we made many, many plays that were winning plays."
Billy Garrett Jr. made many of them in the course of scoring 20 points.
"It's always good to end (non-conference play) on a high note beating a ranked team," Garrett said. "It was huge, huge, huge."
With Garrett, Eli Cain (16) and Aaron Simpson (15) all scoring over their average, and the Blue Demons playing aggressive defense after scoring the first 10 points, the Colonials were up against it from the start.
"We were harping on that really good," Leitao said. "And we shared the ball as well as we have all season. That kept them half a pace behind and led us to those open looks and drives."
Garrett thought the pressure and the pace got to the Colonials.
"On the court they were starting to go back and forth a little bit," Garrett said. "I could definitely notice they were getting a little frustrated. We were feeding off that."
The victory was the first by DePaul over a ranked team this season, only the second in two seasons, and the first at home since the 2007-08 season.
The Blue Demons (6-6) broke a four-game losing streak in the process. George Washington had won four in succession.
"We had no energy to start the game," Colonials coach Mike Lonergan said. "Give them credit, but we played pretty bad defense."
George Washington (10-2) was led by Kevin Larsen's 17 points and 11 rebounds. The Colonials, unranked for a decade until last week following victories over Penn State and Rutgers, saw their four-game winning streak snapped.
Tyler Cavanaugh added 14 points for George Washington.
"We weren't ready to play," Larsen said. "They kept hitting shots and we didn't play real good defense."
DePaul jumped to 10-0 and 33-15 leads with a combination of 3-pointers by Simpson and Cain and dominance under the basket by Myke Henry and Garrett. The Blue Demons held a 41-22 advantage on Cain's 3-pointer before the Colonials scored the last seven points of the half, and built the lead to as many as 23 points in the second half.
The Blue Demons built on a 41-29 halftime lead, using their speed to find openings in George Washington's defense. A 10-4 DePaul run to start the second half combined with the 6-foot-9 Cavanaugh leaving the game with a left ankle sprain helped seal the Colonials' fate.
"We tried to play zone to hide him, but he was ineffective and couldn't really move," Lonergan said.
DePaul shot 55.4 percent to George Washington's season-low 34.0 percent.
DePaul built a 10-0 lead in the first 2:15, sandwiching baskets by Garrett around 3-pointers by Cain and Simpson.
George Washington managed only four field goals in the first 10 minutes, and only eight in the half. Until their flurry at the end of the half, the Colonials were carried by their free-throw shooting (12-of-14 in the first 20 minutes).
George Washington: Cavanaugh twisted his ankle at the end of the first half, and returned for about five minutes in the second half, but reinjured it when he was stripped of the ball and committed a foul under the Colonials basket with 13:51 left in the second half.
DePaul: The Blue Demons beat ranked Seton Hall on the road last season, but hadn't beaten a ranked team at home since a 84-76 victory over Villanova on Jan. 3, 2008.
STAT LINES: George Washington's 3-of-21 3-point shooting was punctuated by a 0-of-14 night by the starters beyond the arc. ... DePaul shot 55.4 percent, 15 points above the average the usually-stingy Colonials allow opponents.
George Washington takes a week off before visiting Central Florida on Dec. 29.
DePaul opens Big East play Dec. 30, hosting Georgetown.
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