George Washington University found a temporary cure for many of its basketball ills in Duquesne last night, racing to a 19-point first-half advantage en route to a rare blowout, 98-77, before 1,662 satisfied fans at Smith Center.

GW (9-11 overall, 3-8 in Atlantic 10 conference play) shot 60 percent from the field, five of six from three-point range. The Colonials outrebounded the visitors from Pittsburgh, 46-38, and placed four players in double figures in scoring a GW season high. Loser of nine of its previous 10 games, George Washington needed this win to rebuild some confidence.

The fact that Duquesne has lost nine in a row since beating GW, 72-70, on Jan. 6 didn't intrude on the Colonials' enjoyment.

"When you've lost so many lately, a win does wonders for us," said GW sophomore Ellis McKennie, who had a career-high 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals for his best total effort of the year.

"Coach {John Kuester} told us to forget what has happened to us in the past and go out and have some fun. I've been looking for my shot more and they played us in a man-to-man. When they beat us, they used a zone."

Whatever defense the lackluster Dukes used, it didn't work. In the first half, McKennie scored 11 of his points, Mike Jones 10 of his 16, Gerald Jackson eight of his 20 and Joe Dooley eight of his 12, many of those points coming during a 22-4 Colonials run that put the Dukes deep in a hole.

"It was real solid effort by everyone," Kuester said. "The key early was our defensive rebounding. That enabled us to get some easy baskets.

"I'm a little confused. We have a good road trip {1-1 at Rhode Island and Massachusetts}, then come back and lose to St. Joseph's here the way we did Thursday night {67-55}, then go out and play like this tonight. Tonight, we went out and played our brand of basketball."

The Dukes (5-16, 1-8), a 40-point loser to Temple in their last game, led GW, 13-11, following a jumper by Arnd Neuhaus. They managed but one field goal over the next nine minutes to fall way behind.

In between Duquesne's missed shots and turnovers, GW ran off its big drive to rush in front, 33-17, with six minutes to play in the half. Jackson began the run with a pair of free throws. Dooley followed with a free throw and a three-point goal and the rout was on.

Duquesne never got untracked. In the last five minutes of the half, the Dukes made only three field goals and two of them were awarded on goaltending calls. Jones, playing very well after being sidelined with a sore knee, provided four of his points and McKennie sank two 14-foot jump shots as GW led, 46-23, with a minute to play in the half.

Duquesne moved within 13 points early in the second half but that was as close as it would come. Collins Dobbs led all scorers with 27 points but his teammates had all kinds of problems finding the basket. James Felix, from Cardozo High School in the District, was zero for 12, eight from three-point range.