Carlos Yates, the ECAC South's leading scorer, who had struggled in four previous games against James Madison University, led a 61-percent shooting performance at George Mason University last night as the Patriots defeated the Dukes, 66-62.

He finished with 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting as George Mason (10-9) improved to 8-3 in the league to remain in the regular-season race with Navy (10-2) and Richmond (8-3), two other winners yesterday.

Yates scored nine of his points in the final nine minutes, making four of his last five shots. The Patriots, who led by as many as nine, 58-49, after Brian Miller's basket with 3:46 remaining, made 28 of 46 shots in beating Madison the second time this year.

"It was just as I figured," said James Madison Coach Lou Campanelli, whose team fell to 12-12 and 5-6. "I figured they would have to shoot 60 percent from the floor to beat us and they shot 61 percent. How are you going to beat a team when it shoots 60 percent at home?"

Yates came into the game averaging 23.6 points this year and more than 22 points for his career, but in his last four games against the Dukes he had averaged 13.6 points and shot 36 percent from the field. He doesn't know why.

"All I know is, the last time I played them I ended up with a concussion," he said. "I don't even remember anything that happened in that game."

James Madison, which holds a 20-7 advantage over George Mason and had never lost twice in a season to the Patriots, was helped by the scoring of freshman guard Eric Brent. Brent, from Mount Vernon High School, scored eight points in the first half but only four after intermission.

George Mason, coming off a nonleague upset loss to Howard, used balanced scoring in the second half as Yates (eight assists) passed off when Madison's zone sagged on him.

Rob Rose, who finished with 15 points, scored 10 of them in the second half. He made four free throws in the final 36 seconds to seal the victory.

Ricky Wilson helped greatly, scoring 12 points, and freshman Brian Miller made two baskets in the last 3:46.

James Madison had trouble offensively and its top scorer, John Newman, did not help much until late in the game. He made only two of six shots in the first half and finished with 16 points.

"In the first half, I missed some easy shots," he said. "I was really psyched for this game, but I was trying too hard and never got into my rhythm. But you have to give George Mason credit. They just didn't miss tonight."