Utah coach Elaine Elliott wanted her team to learn something in Saturday's exhibition opener against Montana-Western. A victory was also on the agenda.
She wound getting both.
Kalee Whipple scored a game-high 24 points and Leilani Mitchell dished out 10 assists as the Utes overpowered the Bulldogs 95-36 in the Huntsman Center.
"I was pleased, obviously, with the good energy," said Elliott, who noted that five players scored in double-figures and that the team did a good job finding different ways to put the ball in the basket. They made 10 three-pointers in the first half and none after the break.
"It's nice to see that we can attack in different areas in that regard," she added.
Morgan Warburton finished with 17 points, while Katie King and Halie Sawyer added 13 and 12, respectively. Mitchell contributed 10 for a double-double. The former all-American at Idaho also had seven steals in her Utah debut.
"It was fun," Mitchell said. "We've been waiting a while to get out and play and compete against someone else."
The competition, though, didn't last long.
Whipple, Warburton and Mitchell ignited an early outburst that put the game out of reach quickly. The Utes reeled off 22 straight points at one point to pull away handily.
The spurt helped Utah build a 53-24 halftime lead. Whipple and Warburton, who teamed to score the Utes' first 17 points, had 14 and 13, respectively at the break. Mitchell handed out seven assists.
"It's easy to get assists when they're making all their shots," said Mitchell, a senior transfer.
The trio, however, didn't do it alone. They had plenty of help. Eight players scored for Utah over the first 20 minutes. Sawyer had eight points and King added seven to lead the contributors. Four Utes grabbed four rebounds, five made steals and two backed Mitchell with three assists.
"That's what it's all about a team," Whipple said. "Everybody contributes."
Utah dressed just nine players in its first game since four players transferred in the offseason. Whipple said the transition has been smooth.
"It's a lot different atmosphere out here with this new team," she explained. "It's really a lot of fun. We played together and we really like where we are going."
The Utes conclude exhibition play Tuesday at home against Fort Lewis. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.Utah's regular-season opener is Nov. 15 against UC Irvine.
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