Coach Debbie Ryan did her best to make it a tough weekend for her seventh-ranked Cavaliers, but Virginia would have none of it. The Cavaliers took a 16-point first-half lead and kept pouring it on to beat Syracuse, 87-50, yesterday in the final of the Investors Classic in Charlottesville.

"I wasn't expecting it to be like that," Ryan said. "I was expecting a much tougher game, much more hotly contested at the guard spots. . . . What else can you do but bring in nationally ranked teams?"

Problem was, only Virginia lived up to its billing. The Cavaliers handled Alabama, 81-58, in Friday night's opening round; Syracuse held off a late rally by No. 16 St. Joseph's for a 50-47 victory.

But Syracuse left its best effort in the semifinal, and the Cavaliers were untested in capturing their third consecutive Classic.

Virginia's Daphne Hawkins, the tournament's most valuable player, scored 16 points in the first half and ended with a game-high 19. Forward Dawn Bryant had 14 points and seven rebounds. Sue Ludwig and Simone Courtlandt led Syracuse with 10 points each.

The ball-hawking of all-America point guard Donna Holt and Hawkins largely accounted for 23 Syracuse turnovers, including 14 Virginia steals.

In the consolation, Alabama broke open a close contest in the second half and defeated St. Joseph's, 80-69.

Maryland 99, American 43: Led by Deanna Tate's game-high 27 points, the Terrapins routed the Eagles at Cole Field House. Vicky Bullett scored 23 points and had a game-high 12 rebounds for Maryland (3-0); Lisa Brown had 17 points and Christy Winters 15.

Beth Shearer led the Eagles (0-3) with 20 points.

Georgetown 68, Colgate 60: Beth Knight scored a game-high 25 points and had 15 rebounds to lead the Hoyas (2-4) in the consolation of the Princeton (N.J.) Invitational. Wendy Bleier led Colgate (1-3) with 18 points.

Rutgers 89, George Washington 81: Two-time all-America Sue Wicks scored 44 points to lead the ninth-ranked Knights (1-0) in the Atlantic-10 Conference opener for both teams at George Washington (1-2). Wicks was 20 of 24 from the field as Rutgers pulled away from the Colonials down the stretch.

Howard 76, Miami (Ohio) 57: Darlene Beale scored 22 points and retrieved 26 rebounds, and Vannessa Graham had 21 points as the Bison won the championship of the Lady Diamond Classic in Gary, Ind. Beale had 51 rebounds in two games and was named the tournament's most valuable player.

George Mason 77, Coppin State 54: Jerolyn Weathersby made seven of nine shots from the floor and finished with a team-high 16 points, and Beverly McLaughlin had 10 rebounds and 13 points to lead the Patriots (3-1) over Coppin State (1-2) at Patriot Center.

Pitt-Johnstown 61, UDC 47: The Mountaincats (3-1) won their tournament by defeating the Firebirds (4-1) in the title game.