For most of Saturday afternoon at the Palestra, it was very much anyone's game.
And then it wasn't.
With less than eight minutes left, Penn was down two points to a George Mason team that had just won by 19 at Penn State and was going for its first seven-game winning streak in six seasons.
Maybe the Quakers simply got worn down by the visitors' athleticism and physicality and didn't have enough left.
Maybe Matt Howard's going to the bench with his fourth personal on an iffy offensive foul call with 9 minutes, 6 seconds left had an impact.
Or maybe the Patriots (8-3) are just a better team.
Whatever, the Quakers wouldn't score again until the 3:07 mark, by which point the margin was 15. The final was 79-60, after a closing 22-5 run.
There was really nothing Penn (3-5), which was going for its first winning streak since last season, could do to prevent it.
"For 32 minutes, we were very good and so were they," said Penn coach Steve Donahue. "The last eight they were terrific. They were tougher mentally and physically. We were probably up to our limit. That was the difference."
It's the same MO that the Patriots used at Happy Valley, when they outscored the Nittany Lions by 20 in the second half.
"We want to have that kind of a cumulative affect," said George Mason coach Dave Paulsen. "That's become our mentality. We want to make it hard [for the opponent]."
It's the first time the Patriots have won their first three on the road in three decades.
Howard led the Quakers with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting and seven boards. A.J. Brodeur had 11, on as many shots, to go with four blocks. And Jackson Donahue (no relation) added 11 off the bench, going 3 for 8 from the arc. The rest of the team went 4 for 20.
George Mason got 22 (9 for 11) from big man Jalen Jenkins, two off his career high. Marquise Moore had 17 (7 for 11), a career-best- tying 16 boards, and 10 assists in 39 minutes. Russell Westbrook light.
The Quakers will be at Central Florida (7-1) on Tuesday before beginning a two-week break.
"We have one senior," Steve Donahue. "We don't have that pedigree of success yet. Somehow we have to learn how to play 40 minutes.
"We're trying to build this program. The schedule is putting us in some tough situations, but that's the way you get better in the long run."