SANDY — Bingham put the finishing touches on what coach Mark Dubach dubbed "our best preseason since I've been here" with another impressive victory Saturday night.

The No. 1 Miners jumped all over the cold-shooting Alta Hawks in building an 18-point halftime lead and extending it to 22 at one point in the second half en route to a 69-56 victory.

Bingham big man Ben Clifford scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half, but perhaps more importantly, he stayed out of foul trouble.

"Cliff got in some foul trouble in Logan and wanted to have a good game and wanted to be a part of the game tonight, and he stayed around and did a good job," said Dubach. "He contested shots, made shots and did the things we needed him to do."

The Miners capitalized on his presence on the floor by wrapping up the preseason with a 10-1 record.

As it often has been, Bingham's defense was the catalyst to another victory by holding Alta to just 34 percent shooting but an abysmal 24 percent in the first half.

"I thought a lot of that came from our defense. I thought we defended them well and forced them into some tough shots," said Dubach. "And I think we transitioned off those shots well."

Bingham raced to the 33-15 halftime lead, with 20 of those points coming on lay-ups or offensive rebound putbacks. Despite the lopsided score, the Miners had no misconception that the outcome was in the bag.

Before the Christmas break, Alta overcame a 15-point first-half deficit on the road to beat highly-regarded Provo, and Bingham expected a similar push on Saturday.

After Bingham extended its lead to 39-17 on a Ty Hannay three-point play early in the third quarter, the Hawks finally started knocking down shots. Over the next three minutes, they went on a 15-4 run, cutting the deficit to 43-32 with 3:12 remaining in the third quarter.

Bingham maintained the 10- to 12-point cushion the rest of the quarter, but Alta quickly cut it to 48-42 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.

"They're a very good team that plays from behind when they're under pressure, and you know that's coming. It was no surprise to us," said Dubach.

With its once-cozy 22-point lead now all but gone, Bingham finally settled down. Highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers by Nate Girsberger, the Miners used a 10-3 run over the next two minutes to regain the double-digit lead at 58-45 and never led by less than nine the rest of the way.

While Bingham has 13 days to prepare for its region opener against Copper Hills, Alta (7-2) jumps right into league play this Wednesday at Pleasant Grove.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com