ANNAPOLIS -- If it were up to Navy coach Pete Herrmann, he would prefer not to see George Mason forward Robert Dykes any time soon.
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound senior was an inside force, missing justwo field goals during a 28-point, nine-rebound performance that helped the Patriots to an 85-79 victory over Navy before 1,156 at Halsey Field House yesterday.
The loss for Navy (6-19, 2-11) was its seventh in a row and fiftstraight in the Colonial Athletic Association. George Mason (12-13, 8-4) won its fifth straight -- the team's longest winning streak of the season.
Dykes, shooting 62.8 percent from the field going in, was 11 o13 from the field and six of seven from the line. With his team trailing, 35-34, at the half, Dykes scored 10 of his team's first second-half points and gave the Patriots a lead they never would relinquish.
Navy fought from 13 points down with 3 minutes, 54 seconds left to pull within 81-77, but Dykes hit the Patriots' only field goal in the last four minutes on a short, off-balance jumper with 31 seconds left. That took the life out of Navy's rally.
"Dykes had a great game -- that was a big, big basket on thaoff-balance shot at the end," Herrmann said. "If you play in front of him, they just lob it over you. He's a very solid player."
As usual, Navy started well, but was hurt by second-half woes and poor shooting. The Midshipmen have failed to shoot 50 percent from the field in any game. Although Navy took 21 more shots than George Mason (76-55), the Midshipmen made one fewer field goal (30-29) in a 38.1 percent shooting performance.
"We just need to shoot the ball better from the field," Hermann said. "During one stretch, we had five good shots on five straight possessions and we missed them all. We had a few shots blocked early, and maybe we got a little hesitant."
Dykes (who scored 28 against Navy earlier this season) had twblocked shots. Byron Tucker, the Patriots' 6-foot-10 junior center, also had two blocks, as he set a school single-season record (51). Tucker scored 18 points and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds.
The Midshipmen were hurt by the loss of Nick Marusich on foulwith 7:31 left. The 6-9 center had 13 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes.
"Two of his fouls were from being overaggressive," Hermansaid. "He's accomplishing more every game and is becoming a bigger threat."
Navy's late comeback was sparked by Erik Harris (22 points)who scored 10 straight points in a little more than two minutes, helping the Midshipmen pull within four in the final minutes.
"Our kids just started celebrating too early and let Navy get bacinto the game," George Mason coach Ernie Neston said. "We just forgot the drive and desire of the kids that play here."
Navy has dropped six straight home games. The team has twregular-season games left, at James Madison Tuesday and at home against Army on Saturday.