Rolando Lamb scored 24 points to lead Virginia Commonwealth past George Mason, 87-78, tonight.

Although he did not start, Mason's Carlos Yates scored a team-high 24 points, 18 after intermission. Yates, a senior averaging 21.5 points, missed the first seven minutes. Coach Joe Harrington said he started Rob Nieberlein instead of Yates because he thought a change was needed.

"I thought Carlos played well and showed a lot of character coming off the bench," said Harrington, whose Patriots are 2-3 after their third straight loss.

With 10 minutes gone, Virginia Commonwealth led, 12-10. The pace then quickened, with the Rams usually a step ahead on the fast break in building a 31-24 halftime lead.

Virginia Commonwealth led by 19 with 2:48 left. George Mason slowed the clock with fouls in cutting the margin to the final nine-point deficit.

The Rams shot 52.8 percent (28 of 53) as Michael Brown had 16 points, Calvin Duncan 15 and Robert Dickerson 10. Virginia Commonwealth also made 31 of 41 free throws as it won for the third time in four games.

George Mason shot 50.9 (27 of 53). Vince McQueen had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Rob Rose scored 14.