Playing the final regular-season game of what has been a prolific career at George Mason, Carlos Yates, a 6-foot-5 senior, scored a school-record 42 points in leading the Patriots to a rousing 93-77 triumph over Navy in an ECAC South match last night before a capacity crowd of 2,700 at George Mason Fieldhouse.
He felt so good he even tried a shot while lying flat on his back in the lane. That was one of the few he missed.
Yates, who became the area's all-time leading scorer last week, sank 17 of 27 field goals and eight of 11 from the line as he broke the mark of 41 points set by Dave Skaff (now an assistant at GMU) against Catholic in 1981. Yates also jumped from 39th to 30th on the list of the NCAA all-time scorers. He has 2,361 career points.
"I wanted to have a good game against them because they are the league champions," said Yates, who also had four rebounds, three steals and three assists. "I didn't feel I was close to any record. I just went out and played as hard as I could. I felt pretty good and had good rhythm shooting the ball."
GMU (16-10 overall, 9-4 in the ECAC), a 78-74 victor over Navy (21-5, 11-3) earlier this year, wrapped up this one quickly. The Patriots abused Navy's zone defense as Yates, Brian Miller (16), Ricky Wilson (14) and Rob Rose (14) threw in 15- to 20-footers with remarkable ease.
Yates made a 16-footer from the top of the key to break a 12-12 tie and the rest of the game belonged to the hosts. Yates (25 points in the first half) made four more jumpers and combined with Wilson and Miller out front on a press to force a handful of turnovers. Three of Navy's errant passes were converted into baskets, two by Yates and the other by Rose, as the Patriots moved to a 28-16 lead, with just under eight minutes left.
GMU's defense accomplished two things: it forced turnovers that led to easy baskets and limited the number of times Navy's 6-11 force David Robinson (19 points, 21 rebounds) touched the ball.
"Their press killed us," said Navy Coach Paul Evans. "We tried to take it to them but maybe we have to go back to the fact that we're slow. We just didn't have it. We never made a run at them."
GMU wouldn't let them. When Yates took a breather (such as when he fell in the lane, grabbed a loose ball and threw up a shot that just missed), Miller shot over the zone. He made three straight jumpers from the corner and Wilson scored following a steal and assist by Yates as GMU went up, 47-28, with 2:44 to play in the half.
When Navy got the ball upcourt, Robinson and Butler (11 points) usually scored. But those baskets didn't come often or quick enough.
GMU shot 63 percent in the half and led by a surprising 53-33.
"That was as good a first half as any Mason team has played," said GMU Coach Joe Harrington. "Yates had a tremendous game. But everyone had a hand in this one. The guys played as if they wanted this one badly. Our defense got us going and we took it to them."
GMU didn't lose any intensity in the second half. Yates missed his first three shots, but Rose, who went over the 1,000-point mark for his career, had two baskets and Miller one from the deep corner and the Patriots were rolling, 66-40, with 15 minutes to play.
The outcome was no longer in doubt. What remained to be settled was Yates' final point total.
Yates had 12 of his team's next 16 points over a five-minute span. He made an 18-footer for his 39th and 40th points to break his career high of 39 and seconds later drilled another long shot to break the school mark with 5:15 left.