From the first day of the season, it was a given that Georgetown's basketball team would have a great perimeter game. Now, 14 games later, the team needs more inside points.

The 13th-ranked Hoyas relied too much on perimeter play and lost to 10th-ranked St. John's, 79-74, Saturday in Madison Square Garden.

"We have to increase our comfort level with our big people," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said yesterday. "When you have an outstanding player like Patrick (Ewing) and he leaves, it's almost like a psychological letdown. That's the kind of adjustment you make when you lose an exceptional player. It's just like when (St. John's) loses an exceptional shooter like Chris Mullin."

Thompson said that in the second half Saturday, "we started to go inside more, which opened the perimeter more."

Ralph Dalton, Georgetown's 6-foot-11 senior center, scored all 10 of his points in the second half. Freshman Johnathan Edwards, 6-9, didn't shoot in his 19 minutes. And 6-10 sophomore Grady Mateen scored five points in 11 minutes.

"People like Ralph, Johnathan and Grady, we have to increase our comfort level with," Thompson said. "Hopefully, toward the end of the season, we'll have recognized that and be able to do it."

When Georgetown plays Syracuse Wednesday at Capital Centre, it is likely Dalton will see more passes inside.

About a year ago, the Hoyas changed from half-court offense to a fast break. They made that transition successfully, and there are few doubts they can make this one.

If anything, Maryland was thankful rather than disappointed after its 68-67 loss Saturday to Georgia Tech. After all, the Terrapins had trailed by 21. Keith Gatlin's 15-foot shot with three seconds left had too much on it, but the Terrapins (10-4 and 0-2 in the ACC) seemed encouraged by the knowledge that they have played two top five teams to near draws.

The Terrapins played their best half of the season to climb back into the game against the fifth-ranked Yellow Jackets (14-1 and 3-0), and they did much the same against third-ranked Duke (14-0 and 3-0) last week, when they lost by 81-75 after trailing by 18.

But they probably won't be able to afford large deficits against No. 1 North Carolina Tuesday at Cole Field House. The Tar Heels will be the third top-five team Maryland has faced in 10 days, and are by far the deepest.

Perhaps the most beneficial outcome of Saturday's game for Maryland was the emergence of Terry Long at center, and the signs of what could become a settled first seven. The back court seems to have solidified somewhat, with Gatlin, Jeff Baxter and freshman John Johnson revolving.

If Long continues to develop, he could solve the problem at center. He came into the game as a substitute and scored 11 points, seven straight before halftime, and had four rebounds.

"Long surprised me," Coach Charles G. Driesell said. "Anyone who can play like that against the fifth team in the country has a starting job."

Howard Coach A.B. Williamson called his team's 67-59 victory over North Carolina A&T on Saturday night, "just another league game." But those who had seen the Bison lose five straight to A&T probably would agree that Howard has to be favored to unseat A&T as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion . . .

American kept its Colonial Athletic Association game with James Madison tight, even though the Dukes shot a home-court record of 73.8 percent and won, 76-67.