With five players scoring in double figures, George Mason University easily defeated California's Whittier College, 88-71, last night in its home court seasonal debut.
The Patriots, whose freshman guard, Carlos Yates, led the scoring with 16 points, opened an eight-point lead while holding the Poets scoreless for the first four minutes of the game. From the time guard Andy Bolden scored on an 18-foot jump shot 40 seconds into the first period, they had the lead for good.
"I was pleased we had an opportunity to play some of the guys who didn't get a chance to play during our first two games," said Mason Coach Joe Harrington, who used all of his 15 players.
"I was especially pleased with Carlos. He played aggressive on defense and he was good on offense. I didn't start him and that hurt him because the players know they have to earn their starting assignments. I liked his response. He was determined to have a good game and he had a good game."
Said Yates, "Not starting did motivate me. I went out there and worked harder."
Fifteen minutes into the first half George Mason already had built up a 15-point lead and the contest seemed to all but out of reach for Whittier.
But then Harrington began to use his substitutes freely and Whittier closed the gap to four points in the final minute before halftime.
"We had a big lead and I wanted to play the other guys. But when I did we lost our momentum," said Harrington. "I thought we would be able to keep it up, but I was wrong."
George Mason took a 37-32 lead into the halftime and then began the second half in much the same manner as it had the first, increasing its lead to 13 points in the first five minutes of the period. The Patriots never faced a serious challenge after that.
Scoring in double figures in addition to Yates were Bolden, 15; Andre Gaddy, 14; Ricky Dillard, 13, and Mike Shannon, 10.
Mason (2-1) defeated Virginia Commonwealth, but lost to the University of Virginia in last weekend's Virginia Tip-Off Tournament in Charlottesville. Whittier, which lost to American University, 86-67, Monday night is 2-3.
"We played well, but we're going to have to play better to beat some of the teams we have coming up on our schedule," said Harrington, who will lead George Mason against the University of Maryland Saturday at Cole Field House. "For a team like George Mason to beat an ACC team like Maryland would be very difficult."