Ugly is an appropriate word for George Washington's 52-48 victory over George Mason at the Smith Center last night. Only 850 people were on hand to watch and they shouldn't be in a hurry to tell their friends.

"It was a sorry, sorry game and I'm embarrassed to sit there on the bench with my team playing that way," said George Mason Coach Joe Harrington. "Neither team played well. They won but it wasn't much of a victory for them. It was ridiculous."

Had not GW's Mike Brown remembered that the purpose of the game is to put the ball in the basket, Colonial Coach Gerry Gimelstob might have felt the same way. Brown, held to two points in the first 20 minutes, scored 17 in the second half and almost single-handedly kept the Colonials in the game.

With GW down, 43-41, Mason dropped back into a zone and Wilbert Skipper, GW's best long-range shooter, made two straight jumpers from long range to put his team ahead, 45-43, with 3:49 left. After Mason's Andy Bolden made a free throw, Brown made two foul shots to give GW a 47-44 cushion.

GW (4-3) tried to play keep away, but two free throws by Bolden and a basket by Pierre LaMitte cut the deficit to 50-48, with 15 seconds left. Brown closed Mason (3-4) out with two more from the line with six seconds left.

"Brown got us going in the second half, someone had to," said GW's Penny Elliott, who, with Brown, held Patriots' 6-foot-10 center Andre Gaddy to four points and two rebounds in 26 minutes. "We went to the man who had the hot hand. And we stayed with him."

The Patriots hurt themselves with 15-of-41 field goal shooting and 21 turnovers. Even without Gaddy, they managed to stay close. Carlos Yates, who scored 13 of his 17 in the second half, and Bolden (15 points), scored in between mistakes to keep the visitors in the ragged contest.

"I thought we played good defense in stretches," said Gimelstob. "We have no excuses for our poor offense. I have to be happy because we've won two close games (42-40, over Duquesne last Saturday)."

Neither team did much right in the first half. At the 10-minute mark, Mason was clinging to a 6-5 lead -- and neither team was in a stall. Mason managed a seven-point advantage, 18-11, but GW fought back within 20-18 at the half.

Three consecutive baskets by Brown sent the Colonials ahead, 26-22, but Yates scored back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 26. The lead changed a dozen times before Brown's scoring and rebounding (14) made the difference.