If you didn't see him play and just watched David Robinson shake his head and listened while he described his shooting performance last night, you would have thought he didn't get a ball close to the rim, much less through it.
"I was shooting terribly," said Robinson, who proved modesty can be a bit deceiving by scoring 33 points, hauling down 20 rebounds and blocking six shots as Navy defeated George Mason, 81-68, in the second game of a Colonial Athletic Association doubleheader viewed by 5,222 at Mason's Patriot Center.
In the first game, American University ended an eight-game losing streak by beating James Madison, 74-66, in overtime. It was AU's first win over the Dukes in seven tries.
"David had a great game," Navy Coach Paul Evans said of Robinson, who was 13 of 22 from the floor and seven of 10 from the line. "He was missing some easy shots, and if he had made them, it would have been a super game. But the effort was as good as I've seen this year and he really maintained his cool."
Navy is 18-4, 9-1 in the CAA, its only conference loss coming against Richmond.
"I'm not sure anybody in this league can beat them, except Richmond," said George Mason Coach Joe Harrington. "I think David Robinson just dominated the game."
Robinson is from Prince William County, and usually has played pretty well against George Mason. Navy beat the Patriots, 88-74, when on Jan. 11 in Annapolis and Robinson had 19 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks, though he wasn't the high scorer.
Being close to home and the fact that these two teams don't really like each other made it especially nice for Robinson.
"It's definitely a good feeling to come in here and win by a good margin," Robinson said. "We feel they play pretty nasty, play dirty . . . that's just the way we feel, and we hate that. Then, with them beating us twice last year and then running around saying they were so much better than us even though they couldn't beat anybody else, that just got us mad. It's just a bad feeling."
Harrington's curt response was, "That's Navy. I've never heard our team say anything negative about Navy, and I've never heard anyone boasting. I don't think it (bad feelings) is coming from the George Mason camp."
The Patriots, who were led in scoring by Kenny Sanders (24) and Ricky Wilson (19), twice led by five points in the first half, the last time at 15-10 with 12:42 to go.
"We started in the 2-3 zone, but they were getting guys behind that and they seemed prepared for that," said Evans, who switched to a 1-2-2.
A Robinson layin after an offensive rebound, Nate Bailey's 10-footer, a Robinson dunk and a 15-footer by Doug Wojcik put the Midshipmen ahead, 18-17, with 9:24 to go in the half and they never trailed after that.
Navy was up, 33-29, at the half. In the last 10 minutes, the Patriots got within 10 points only once. Sanders' 20-footer cut Navy's lead to 65-56 with 5:22 to go, but the Midshipmen outscored George Mason 8-2 the next three minutes.
While the Midshipmen are gearing for tournament play, the Eagles were just trying to get in any gear.
"We needed it -- badly," said AU Coach Ed Tapscott after his team's first win since Jan. 8 when it beat Delaware, 79-78 in overtime.
AU is 8-13 and 2-8 in the CAA. James Madison is 4-17, 2-7.
Just as he has in all but four games this year, Frank Ross led the Eagles in scoring. He was all the offense for AU in the first half, scoring 16 points while no other AU player had more than four. He finished with a game-high 30.
"Frank has been there all season," Tapscott said. "And I said that we'd be all right as soon as we got a big man contributing. I got my big guy right here in Longmire Harrison."
Along with Ross and a trapping press that had given JMU trouble in the first half, Harrison and point guard Mike Sampson came on in the second half.
Harrison, making just his fourth start of the season, had eight points after intermission, including four free throws in overtime, and finished with six rebounds. Sampson, although not taking a shot from the floor in the first half, had totals of 14 points and eight assists.
"We've known all year that we had to help Frank," Harrison said, "because all the teams we play key on him. I knew I had to assert myself, and I knew that if I asserted myself more on the boards and was more aggressive the opportunities would come."
Tapscott explained the difference between Sampson's two halves.
"He's playing with a scratched cornea," Tapscott said. "So he's playing with a contact lens in one eye and without one in the other eye. He was reluctant to shoot in the first half because he wasn't sure what bucket to shoot at. I just told him to play his normal game. He has to shoot or they pack in the zone and everybody goes to Frank."
It was Sampson, though, who had the ball stolen by JMU's Robert Griffin giving Griffin, who led JMU with 14 points, a chance to score with 44 seconds left in regulation and tie the game at 62.
But AU never trailed in the extra five minutes. Eric White scored 23 seconds into overtime, and Sampson followed with a basket about a minute later for 66-62 lead.