George Mason Coach Joe Harrington did his bit before the game, senior forward Dave Skaff did his during it, and the Patriots came away with a 86-64 trouncing of Catholic last night at Brookland Gym.

"We just had a little talk," Harrington said. "I emphasized how hard we had worked in practice."

Duly reminded, Mason pressed the Cards and ran at every opportunity. Scoring the first eight points of the game, the Patriots never trailed. Skaff, 6-foot-6, scored his 1,000 career point and had a game-high 29 points.

Mason (5-4) has won two straight and equaled its victory total of last year. The Cards slipped to 2-7 with an effort that left Coach Jack Kvancz "more than a little disappointed.

"I thought it would be a ball game," he said. "I knew they would play hard. I thought that we would."

Minus 6-10 center Dan Murray, who has ankle and knee problems, the Cardinals were outrebounded, 59-30, and outshout, 55 percent to 38. The Patriots seem to now accept the fact that their own 6-10 center, Andre Gaddy, is out for the year with a broken hand.

"We've had to change everything," said Harrington, whose team strength has been diminished by other injuries. "I think they're a little more used to it now."

In addition to Skaff, Harrington had praise for guard John Niehoff (17 points), backcourt mate Andy Bolden (14 points), who ran the offense, and forward Kevin Jackson (12 points).

Guard Geoff Mack scored 12 points for Catholic.

Mason had the game settled quickly, taking a 40-25 halftime lead behind Skaff's 14 points. CU scored the first basket of the second half, then missed its next six shots. The Patriots, meanwhile, were making six in a row and going up, 52-28, with 16:45 left.

The most excitement from then on was generated by CU's Bill Dankos and Mason's Ricky Dillard, who ended an evening of pushing and shoving by exchanging errant punches and getting ejected.