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Fans meet Runnin’ Utes

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Utah women's coach Elaine Elliott had a good excuse for her women losing the 3-point shooting contest to the men Thursday night.

"It's been 15 years since we've done this," she said.

Her team had never been invited to Night With the Runnin' Utes by the previous men's coach, who considered the women's team as nothing more than a nuisance.

But out there on the Huntsman Center floor Thursday night, the women shared the spotlight with the U. men's team as Ute basketball fans got their first look at the respective programs.

New men's coach Ray Giacoletti has no problem sharing the limelight and was happy to do so in front of a couple of thousand fans on the rainy evening.

The Ute men and women teams, which were both picked to finish second at last week's Mountain West Conference media day, held brief scrimmages before competing side-by-side in shooting contests. Afterward, the players stayed around to pose for pictures and sign autographs.

"This is a great start to a wonderful partnership," said Elliott, who begins her 22nd year as Ute coach. "Both programs have set the standard in the Mountain West Conference, and it's wonderful to be together.

Ever since he came, Ray has been so gracious to us."

"I think it's great that we could do it together," said Giacoletti.

"It was fun for everyone."

The men came out on top in the 3-point shooting contest, as four players combined to sink 59 shots compared to 46 for the women.

Each player had a minute to shoot five balls from five different spots behind the 3-point arc. Casey Iverson, a walk-on transfer from College of Eastern Utah, led the way with 17, while Marc Jackson and Jonas Langvad each made 15 and Richard Chaney 12.

For the women, two-time MWC MVP Kim Smith sank 13, while Julie Wood, Heidi Carlsen and Lana Sitterud each made 11.

The scrimmages were short since both teams had practiced earlier in the day. In the men's 15-minute scrimmage, the Red team, led by Andrew Bogut's nine points, four rebounds and three steals, beat the Whites 26-19.

Marc Jackson led the White team with nine points, while freshman Jermaine Calvin was impressive with seven for the Reds.

In the women's scrimmage, sophomore Shauna Brouillard was the top scorer with eight points, while playing for both teams.

The men and women also combined in a two-ball competition with Justin Hawkins and Shona Thorburn beating three other teams.

"We're 11 days into practice, but we're trying to take small steps every day and try to get better," said Giacoletti. "The effort has been very good, and I'm pleased with our work ethic."

UTE NOTES: The only negative on the night was Ute guard Tim Drisdom spraining his right ankle midway through the scrimmage while fighting for a loose ball with Marc Jackson . . . Freshman center Luke Nevill sat out two days of practice this week because of a virus . . . The Utah women open exhibition play Tuesday night against Baden Sports, while the men's first exhibition will be Nov. 6 against Carroll College.

E-mail: sor@desnews.com