SOUTH JORDAN The bigger the game, the better Bingham guard Nicole Yazzie plays.
Just ask Jordan.
Yazzie poured in 18 points and drained four 3-pointers to lead the top-ranked Miners to a 50-41 win over the Beetdiggers on Thursday night. Bingham improved to 11-0, while fifth-ranked Jordan dropped to 9-2.
Yazzie made two of her 3's and scored eight points in a dominant first quarter for the Miners. She helped Bingham score the game's first 10 points and race out to a 17-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
"She likes to step up and be noticed in the big games," said Miners coach Rand Rasmussen. "She hit some key shots. When we need a momentum switch of some sort, she's the one who does that for us."
The Miners hoped to start fast in Thursday's highly anticipated game between the two ranked teams. They believed that their physical play and an early lead would make Jordan panic. The Beetdiggers probably didn't panic, but it took them quite a while to recover from their early deficit.
"We get jacked up every game," Yazzie said. "It doesn't matter to me who we are. We play like we're the lowest ranked team. We play like an underdog team."
Jordan played much better in the second half and threatened to get within single digits a couple of times. Yazzie, however, responded with big shots to put the game away. She sank two 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, the second of which came with 5:10 left in the game and put Bingham up 45-30.
The victory was arguably Bingham's most impressive win of the season, but the Miners weren't all that pleased with themselves after the contest. They were disappointed that they weren't able to maintain their high level of play after the first quarter.
"We made mistakes in the second half on defense," Rasmussen said. "I'm actually kind of happy it worked out that way because we haven't put two halves together. I think if you play a perfect game now, you'll be in big trouble come tournament time. We're not going to peak too early that's for sure."
Steph Burt helped Jordan regain some life after its slow start and scored 12 points. Kaylie Robison also had 12 points, and Bev Smith had 11 points for the Beetdiggers.Erika Newbold had 12 points for Bingham. Malorie Dixon and Dyana Thurgood were once again solid on defense for the Miners, as they combined to hold Jordan guard Izzy Gustafson to just one point.