Men’s basketball dominated DePaul inside, scoring more than half of their points in the paint, to defeat the Blue Demons 81-68 Thursday at the Smith Center.
Junior forward Patricio Garino guided the Colonials (6-2) with a team-high 19 points, followed closely by junior Kevin Larsen, who led the team with eight rebounds and scored 18 points to share the second top-scoring spot with junior point guard Joe McDonald.
Against a sharp-shooting DePaul (6-2) team that had the 21st best field goal shooting percentage in the country coming into the contest (.495), GW was able to hold the edge and shoot 57.1 percent on the night to the Blue Demons’ 49.1 percent mark.
“There was really no letdown. We missed some easy buckets, but we never really let any of their guys get going,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “It’s two games in a row now that we’ve played teams with some talent inside and they didn’t really hurt us too much.”
While DePaul struggled to get the ball in the net, GW thrived down low. The Colonials would finish the night outscoring the Blue Demons 54-24 in the paint and out-rebounding them 38-28.
“[Outscoring DePaul in the paint] was a big plus, but I thought we would be struggling a little more to score inside because both of their big guys are really good players,” Larsen said. “But that motivated us to try to go at them and show that we are better players.”
Three Colonials would end the first half scoring in double figures, helping GW secure a commanding 20-point lead at halftime. Larsen led with 11 first-half points, while Garino and McDonald each scored 10.
“Kevin [Larsen] is so much more effective inside where he can score and do a lot of things,” Lonergan said. “That’s opened up a lot of driving lanes for Patricio [Garino] … and allows guys to get to the rim, and I think that’s why Patricio is shooting an unbelievable percentage in the last three games.”
GW shot an impressive 60 percent from the field in the first half to DePaul’s 34.6 percent and demolished their Big East opponent 28-6 in the paint. Junior guard Kethan Savage scored two points but had a team-high five rebounds, as his team would out-rebound the Blue Demons 21-12 in the first frame.
An 11-4 run by DePaul early in the second half kept the Blue Demons in the game, but DePaul’s 15th of 24 total personal fouls sent GW to the line, slowing down the game.
Sophomore guard Nick Griffin knocked down one of his two threes on the night moments later to liven a quieting crowd and give the Colonials a 52-33 lead. Griffin and freshmen Yuta Watanabe led the bench with six points each, while Watanabe also contributed five rebounds and two assists in the 13-point GW victory.
Garino had shot 62 percent in GW’s previous four games and went eight for nine from the field against DePaul, also totaling five of the Colonials’ 10 steals.
“I think pressuring the ball on defense allows me to run the transition,” Garino said. “And I think I’m going to the rim and making layups. I have to pick up my free-throw shooting, but I feel comfortable and again, pressuring the ball opens everything for me.”
Despite the Blue Demons’ improved 63 percent shooting in the second half and GW’s 14-27 mark at the free throw line, the Colonials would hold on for the fourth consecutive win at home this season. GW is now 19-1 in their last 20 games at the Smith Center.
The Colonials will look to extend their three-game winning streak Sunday as they head to University Park, Pa. to take on Penn State at 12 p.m.
This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
In a photo caption, The Hatchet incorrectly identified DePaul as the Blue Devils. They are the Blue Demons. The Hatchet also incorrectly reported that the rebounding margin was 31-21. It was 38-28. We regret these errors.