Despite a slow start by Carlos Yates, George Mason easily won its third game in a row, defeating Utica College, 91-71, last night in Fairfax.

Yates, the nation's fourth-leading Division I scorer with a 26.4 average, didn't get his first points until five minutes into the game. However, he had 15 by the half as the Patriots took a 41-31 lead.

Yates scored eight of his team's first 12 points of the second half and finished with 27.

"I was surprised he had 27," said Utica Coach Larry Costello. "It was a very quiet 27."

The Patriots (9-5) trailed, 5-4, two minutes into the game but then went on a 10-4 run. The 11-point halftime lead matched the biggest of the period.

"I was pleased," said George Mason Coach Joe Harrington. "It was a team win. We got balanced scoring, that was the main thing. We needed a performance like this going into the James Madison game (Saturday in Harrisonburg)."

Yates led the Patriots but three teammates--Dwayne Grace (14 points), Mike Yohe (11) and Ricky Wilson (15)--were in double figures.

George Mason lengthened its lead to 69-53, the biggest of the game, with 7:37 left on a short jumper by Yohe. Utica then went on a 7-1 run to cut the lead to 10 and seemed on the verge of making it a tight game. But Mason scored 10 straight points to put it away.

Utica came into the game averaging 56 points and couldn't keep up with the Patriots' fast-paced play. "They have a bigger team and a stronger team and it showed," said Costello, whose team dropped to 4-11. "We like to run, but it's tough to run when you don't rebound."