U women post 70-41 exhibition blowout

The U women’s basketball team opened exhibition play Tuesday night in the Huntsman Center with a resounding 70-41 victory over Baden Sports, a team consisting of former Mountain West Conference players.

There was some congeniality between the teams during breaks and time outs as the Utes faced off against Kelsy Stireman and Carley Marshall, two of the U’s senior starters from last year. There was also some extremely serious competitive play during the game as the U hoped to make the point that their youth would not hold them back this year.

This year’s squad has nine underclassmen and only one senior, but the Utes demonstrated that they would still be a force to reckon with as they pummeled Baden Sports. Whether the Utes were either trying to show others what they were capable of or they were simply trying to prove it to themselves is a matter up for discussion. But the Utes looked solid as they took control of the game early, scoring the first nine points of the game and never looking back.

Coming into the contest, the Utes still had many questions to answer. While U head coach Elaine Elliott said she didn’t learn much from the game, she definitely had a good look at her two options for center.

Prior to the game, Elliott stated she had no idea who would start at the center position. But after an impressive performance from the 6-foot, 3-inch freshman Deanne Hanchett, the picture seemed to be clearer. Hanchett led all scorers in the game with 16 points in just 22 minutes, and grabbed six rebounds.

“[Hanchett] is one of the players we knew coming in had the means and the potential to play the [center] well,” Elliott said. “She played aggressively tonight and it was nice to see a freshman step up like that.”

Junior point guard Shona Thorburn, contributed seven points and seven assists while directing the action. She said Hanchett made a strong statement with her fine play.

“I thought she played awesome tonight,” Thorburn said. “She definitely stepped up and we’re going to need her. She’s big, she’s tall and she’s what we’ve got.”

Sophomore Shauna Brouillard, the other player contending for a starting spot at center, made an equally impressive statement, scoring 9 points and grabbing five rebounds in just 18 minutes of play.

“[Brouillard] did a nice job, too,” Elliott said. “She played well in the post, and that was nice to see.”

While Elliott seems to favor Hanchett for her size-Brouillard is only 6-feet, 1-inch-she made it clear both players would see significant playing time throughout the season.

“They’ll share [the center position],” Elliott said. “Neither one of them has the endurance to play a lot of minutes in a row, so they’ll both see time.”

“Both of them look like they are going to be capable of getting things done for us at [center], she added. “It won’t matter who starts.”

With the first game of the regular season against nationally ranked Stanford less than three weeks away, the Utes are understandably nervous about their level of preparation. But with leaders like Thorburn and two-time MWC Player of the Year Kim Smith, it appears they will have a chance to win every game they play.

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