Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News
Utah's Kalee Whipple is fouled by UC Irvine's Stephanie Duda during the Utes' season-opening win.

Elaine Elliott's silver season at Utah got off to a golden start — a 91-50 rout of UC Irvine in the Huntsman Center.

Kalee Whipple scored 27 points and made all nine of her shots from the field, including three treys, as the Utes made sure their coach's 25th season at the helm got off to a successful beginning.

"It was a good early season game for us," said Elliott, whose squad hosts nationally ranked Stanford on Sunday.

Utah jumped out to a 10-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest. Morgan Warburton paced the surge with five of her 16 points in the first half.

"We've got good wings," Elliott said. "Kalee and Morgan both did a nice job tonight."

Utah shot 64.9 percent from the field and scored 58 points in the paint. The Utes outrebounded the Anteaters, 46-30.

Elliott noted that with only nine active players on the roster and a lot of experience coming back, the players have been getting a lot of reps in practice. As such, she noted, more of the system is already in place than in past years.

"We're all in very good shape," Warburton said. "And it can only get better from here."

UC Irvine never made a serious run after missing its first six shots. The Utes capitalized and eventually extended their lead to 29 points in the opening half. They held a 47-23 halftime advantage.

Contributions were plentiful.

"I think that's what our team is all about," Whipple said. "Everybody just converted on everything."

Senior point guard Leilani Mitchell had 13 assists in her Utah debut. The transfer from Idaho, who sat out last season, wasn't the only player to see action after an extended absence. Junior center Deanne Stevenson played for the first time in nearly two years after being sidelined with chronic knee pain. She pulled down six rebounds in her return.

Several other Utes had notable performances as well. Center Jessica Perry notched a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Former SLCC star Katie King finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.

All nine Utes scored, and seven made steals. UC Irvine shot just 28.1 percent from the field.

"Starting off the season like this is very good for us," Whipple said.

GAME NOTES: The win was the 510th of Elliott's career ... The Utes now lead the all-time series with the Anteaters 3-0. Previous wins came in 1996 and 1997 ... Utah will face Marist, Akron and Nebraska in Hawaii over Thanksgiving weekend.

U. women sign 4 players

Utah women's basketball coach Elaine Elliott announced the signing of four student-athletes to national letters-of-intent. The signees, who will join the program for the 2008-09 season, include guard Janita Badon (Jefferson HS, Ore.), center Mandy Munns (Box Elder HS), guard Iwalani Rodrigues (Kalani HS, Hawaii) and guard Hannah Stephens (Archbishop Mitty HS, Calif.).

"We are very pleased with the beginning of our 2008 class," Elliott said. "We have addressed the need to add size and strength to our post position, get talent and depth at the point, and to upgrade our overall athleticism. These four signed athletes fit that bill."

The Utes plan to fill their two remaining scholarships in the spring.

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