American University Coach Ed Tapscott aptly summarized Georgetown's approach to basketball: "They keep applying the defensive pressure, and they figure sooner or later it's going to get you."

It got American last night at Capital Centre, but later than it has grabbed five previous opponents. The overmatched Eagles provided the toughest competition of the season for top-ranked Georgetown, but the Hoyas still won, 86-64.

Georgetown's lead became lopsided late in the second half. But most of the 5,112 stayed and watched the Hoyas' most entertaining game of the year and a tough effort by the Eagles (2-4).

Patrick Ewing made nine of 11 shots and scored a game-high 20 points. Bill Martin made seven of eight shots for 19 points. David Wingate also made seven of eight and finished with 17.

And Michael Jackson, getting better each game at running Georgetown's break, recorded 13 assists, two short of the school record. Georgetown shot 65 percent from the floor.

Next for the Hoyas (6-0) will be second-ranked De Paul Saturday afternoon at Capital Centre.

AU was competitive early because of phenomenal shooting. "AU deserves a lot of credit," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said. "They shot exceptionally well. I couldn't believe how well they shot during that early stretch."

Jackson explained later that he and his teammates weren't jumping around screens quickly enough. But when they began doing so, the same thing happened to the Eagles that happens to many Georgetown opponents: AU shot 30 percent in the second half.

American, led by Jim Lutz's career-high 17 points and six rebounds, shot 56 percent in the first half and actually led by a basket after 10 minutes. Frank Ross, who had 14 points, contributed heavily.

But the Georgetown defense, probably the best in the nation, prevailed. "Their talent and size took over," Tapscott said. "They wore us down, second shots started to come. We started making mistakes and they forced us to make more."

Tapscott joked about trying to walk into the Georgetown locker room saying he was a member of the press. "Hey, I wanted to go in there and come out with a couple of big guys," he said.

The Eagles will probably be a lot better for this game. "We've found we could reach a level," Tapscott said. "Now we've got to maintain and expand that. There's something tangible."

The Eagles have worked hard and patiently in their other games, but didn't shoot well enough to win, especially at George Washington and against New Mexico at the Fighting Illini Classic.

Against Georgetown, AU made 12 of its first 17 shots, and 15 of 27 before halftime. Against most other teams, the Eagles would have been leading at intermission.

But against these Hoyas, who transcend most categories of comparisons, AU trailed, 50-36. Those who have seen the Eagles a lot say it is difficult to imagine them playing much better.

Ross, a 6-2 sophomore guard from Potomac High, made one incredible shot. He took a jumper from below Ewing's waist, arching it over Ewing, whose arm extension and jump must take him 13 feet off the floor.

Ross' shot traveled higher in distance than it did forward. And it was good, part of the spectacular shooting display the Eagles used to stay close for the first 12 minutes of the game.

When AU's Michael Wade stripped the ball from Wingate and made a jumper to give the Eagles a 12-11 lead with four minutes gone, it marked the first time this season Georgetown had trailed that far into a game.

Tapscott had said the day before that perhaps his players -- 11 of whom are freshmen and sophomores -- might be too young to know the importance of this game. Maybe, too, they were too young to be intimidated by the Hoyas like most other teams.

Whatever it was, the Eagles kept pace. Even a flying dunk by Martin, which put the Hoyas ahead, 22-20, didn't discourage American. Ross countered with another jumper that tied the score.

And AU even took a 26-24 lead midway through the half on Steve Nesmith's jumper. But the Eagles seemed to lose something a few seconds later when Lutz, who had scored eight points, went to the bench with his third foul.

As had been expected, Georgetown finally took control. Horace Broadnax's field goal and free throw put the Hoyas ahead for good, 27-26, with just more than nine minutes left in the first half and started them on a 26-10 run that established a 14-point halftime lead.

Georgetown shot 67 percent from the field in the half with Martin making five of six shots and Ewing six of seven, including a sweet-looking sky hook.

In the second half, the Hoyas kept building their lead, especially during one stretch in which Wingate scored eight straight points.