ANNAPOLIS, FEB. 16 -- Make no mistake about George Mason University center Robert Dykes. It is his lane, his baseline and his space under the basket.
Get him the ball and he will do the rest, which is precisely what happened in the second half today as the Patriots defeated Navy, 85-79, in a Colonial Athletic Association game before 1,156 at Halsey Field House.
Dykes, a 26-year-old former Navy pharmacist's mate aboard the USS Eisenhower, scored 19 of his game-high 28 points after halftime to lead George Mason (12-13, 8-4) to its fifth straight victory and eighth in the last 10 games.
"I just feel comfortable in these surroundings," said Dykes, who made 11 of 13 shots, all from inside six feet, and had nine rebounds. "It's like home sweet home."
Navy (6-19, 2-11) has lost seven straight and 12 of its last 13, including seven consecutive home defeats. The Midshipmen's only win in the last six weeks was at American on Feb. 11.
With Navy leading by 35-34 at halftime, Dykes scored 14 points in the first nine minutes of the second half on a collection of power drives and nifty spin moves. His 64 percent shooting places him first in the CAA and among the national leaders.
The Patriots built a 13-point lead and seemed on the way to their eighth straight win over Navy when poor free throw shooting let the Midshipmen back in the game. George Mason missed seven of 12 free throws in the final 2:05, while Navy's Erik Harris (22 points) scored seven straight points and Sam Cook added a hook shot with 52 seconds left to get the Midshipmen within 81-77.
Then Dykes went to work, connecting on a strong baseline drive with 33 seconds left to push the lead to six. After Navy's Eddie Reddick made a layup, Dykes made one of two free throws with 23 seconds to go for an 84-79 lead.
"Robert had a great, great game," Navy Coach Pete Herrmann said. "You have to decide how to play him. Do you front him and give them the lob? We played on his side and made him work. It's tough to stop him whatever you do."
Patriots forward Byron Tucker had 18 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocked shots, giving him a school single-season record of 51.
Guard Mike Hargett (16 points, seven assists) made two three-pointers early in the second half when the Patriots went on a 13-3 run to build a 62-52 lead. Navy didn't get closer than nine until the final minute.
"Another close game; the story of our lives," Harris said.
At home against the CAA's top four teams, the Midshipmen lost to James Madison and Richmond by one point, George Mason by six and American in overtime.
"We certainly haven't given up on anything," said Herrmann whose team remains mired in last place in the conference. "We'll just try to play as tough as we can play. We know we can win these close games."