De Paul, the second-ranked college team in the nation, put up a struggle yesterday in sold-out Capital Centre -- a pretty good one, in fact. But it didn't matter. Top-ranked Georgetown was mesmerizing at times, scoring 18 straight points to break open a close game and holding the Blue Demons without a field goal the last 13 minutes.

The final result was a 77-57 Georgetown victory before 19,135 that might say more about the state of college basketball than a game in December usually does.

Georgetown has won 18 straight games, is 7-0 this season and has allowed no opponent to come closer than 20 points.

Yesterday, all-America Patrick Ewing was outstanding as usual with 15 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots. Teammate Bill Martin said of Ewing's performance: "Just when you think you've seen everything he can do, he'll show you just a little bit more."

Ewing's dominance contributed heavily to De Paul's worst defeat in six years.

The person least impressed by all of this seemed to be Georgetown Coach John Thompson, who said of flashy early-season victories, "Fool's gold. December can fool you. The best thing that could have happened to us today, psychologically, would have been to lose the game."

The devil's advocate may ask, "Will psychology matter with a team such as this?"

De Paul simply wilted under Georgetown's second-half defensive pressure.

"We have the outlook that the pressure will have to get to you at some point," Georgetown's Ralph Dalton said. "We figure eventually, they'll have to crack."

The Blue Demons, the team with the best winning percentage in the nation the last seven years (180-30, 85.7 percent), cracked after cutting an 18-point deficit to 50-49 with 12 minutes left.

That's when Georgetown's pressing defense took over and changed the game as it has so many times the last two seasons. "If we just could have gotten that basket to go ahead," De Paul Coach Joey Meyer said, "we could have controlled the tempo. But we couldn't, and they just made us play at their pace. They made us play the way they wanted."

Tyrone Corbin led De Paul (6-1) with 23 points and nine rebounds. His departure to the bench with four fouls, with 10 minutes to play, certainly didn't enhance De Paul's upset effort.

The biggest individual disappointment might have been the one-for-six shooting of De Paul's star sophomore, Dallas Comegys, who scored only seven points in 24 minutes.

It was obvious to almost everyone that De Paul, having come back so well, was tiring midway through the second half. The Blue Demons had the chance to go ahead, but reserve freshman guard Andy Laux (zero-for-four shooting) missed a jumper, which preceded Georgetown's barrage.

Twice Meyer stood and signaled for his team to call time. Perhaps his players couldn't see him beyond the Hoyas who were guarding them. The Hoyas certainly could sense the Blue Demons were becoming unsteady.

"Guys like Pat, Ralph and I have been around and seen enough teams do that in the second half," Martin said. "We could see them starting to get a little tired. They started throwing a few lazy passes, a couple of passes out of bounds, we'd get our finger tips on a couple. And all of a sudden, the defense has taken effect."

The sequence is familiar to anyone who followed Georgetown to the national championship last season.

After Laux missed that jumper, Georgetown's Michael Jackson (14 points, 12 assists and only three turnovers) made a free throw, then stripped De Paul's Kenny Patterson of the ball at midcourt and drove down for the layup that increased Georgetown's lead to 53-49.

Lamone Lampley, a 7-foot reserve center, made a two foul shots to keep the Blue Demons within 53-51 with 11:06 left. But those were the last points De Paul would get for nearly eight minutes.

Freshman Grady Mateen, Georgetown's heir apparent to Ewing, made a free throw to put the score at 54-51. The Hoyas got the ball back when Lawrence West missed the front end of a one-and-one foul shooting set.

Ewing scored by following up his shot and made the subsequent free throw for 57-51. He also recorded one of the hardest high-fives of the year when he smacked Reggie Williams' hand on the way to the foul line.

Jackson forced another steal at midcourt and freshman Perry McDonald began his own fantastic sequence.

McDonald scored on a jumper following Jackson's steal, making it 59-51. De Paul's Tony Jackson lost the ball beneath his basket and McDonald scored again for 61-51.

McDonald then stripped the ball from forward Marty Embry and the Hoyas got it to Ewing for a rolling hook and 63-51. "When he threw in that one jump hook from 12 feet, I knew we were in trouble then," Meyer said.

McDonald stole the ball from Tony Jackson on the next possession, and took it in himself for a layup and 65-51.

It was a quick ending for De Paul, which had come back so well at the end of the first half to erase Georgetown's 38-20 lead.

The Blue Demons outscored Georgetown, 18-7, in the last four minutes of the half, with Ewing on the bench with two fouls, to pull within 45-38 at halftime although the Hoyas had shot 74 percent in the half.

When Martin was asked how good his team has become, the first thing he did was remind listeners about the first lead that got away. "I don't think we were playing the defenses properly," he said.

De Paul's surge continued in the second half, as Embry scored a jumper over Ewing to bring the Blue Demons to 50-47. Georgetown even called time with about 12 minutes to play.

"It was at that point when you knew the hard defense had to do it," Martin said. "When the offense isn't there, you have to try to force some turnovers and get a few easy baskets.

"It took Pat's leadership to pick us up, though," Martin continued. "He's a big-game player and he was really fired up for this one."

Ewing's play seemed to pick up the Capital Centre crowd. "I've never seen Capital Centre like this, with the wave going and all that noise," Martin said. "I hope it can be like that every night."

When De Paul came within a point, it provided the first real tension in Georgetown's season, tension that Thompson could have done without.

"At times I was wondering whether we were ready to give the game away," he said.

One of his concerns was his team's spread offense or delay game, which was run almost perfectly in Georgetown's drive to the NCAA title.

"We won the national championship with four corners," Thompson said. "Today, we wouldn't win the city championship with four corners."

Such concerns probably will keep Georgetown sharp. The 20-point victory doesn't mean nearly as much to Thompson as it does to the fans who watched on national television.

And Martin, who has been around Thompson long enough to know his coach doesn't satisfy easily, said with a smile, "He may have us practice eight hours on Christmas."