JeQuan Lewis scored 16 to lead VCU (17-6, 9-1), which lost for the first time since Dec. 15 at Georgia Tech. The Rams led by as many as nine in the second half, but were outscored 13-5 over the final five minutes.
George Washington pulled even at 58 on a 3-point play by Cavanaugh with six minutes remaining. The Rams scored the next six points, but the Colonials forced back-to-back turnovers and pulled even again on Garino's fourth 3-pointer from right in front of his bench.
After Justin Tillman made 1 of 2 free throws for VCU, Larsen scored inside, giving the Colonials their first lead of the half at 66-65. Two free throws by Mo Alie-Cox and a driving basket by Melvin Johnson gave the Rams the lead back at 69-66, but Cavanaugh hit a jumper in traffic and after the Rams were called for an offensive foul, and McDonald got loose for a wide-open 3-pointer, putting the Colonials ahead to stay.
VCU used an 11-2 burst early in the second half to open a 42-33 lead, its biggest to that point. Lewis had a pair of 3-pointers and eight points in the run, but the Colonials answered with their own 11-4 surge.
Neither team led by more than five in the first half. There were five ties and six lead changes.
George Washington: The Colonials came in ranked 11th nationally in free-throw percentage at .761, but missed 5 of 7 from the line in the first half.
VCU: Justin Tillman started the day having made 40 of his last 48 field-goal attempts.
George Washington is at home against Saint Joseph's on Wednesday.
VCU plays at Massachusetts on Thursday.