Bittner hits milestone, leads DSU past Comets
Kylee Bittner wanted this one bad.
The Dickinson State senior guard scored her 1,000th career point in the midst of a game-changing second-half surge and finished with 23 points as the Blue Hawks pulled away from Mayville State for a 78-66 Dakota Athletic Conference victory Saturday at Scott Gymnasium.
"Just realizing it could be a moment, scoring my 1,000th point at home when my family is here and other fans and supporters, it really meant a lot," Bittner said.
Bittner and seniors Jessica Nieves and Mandy Mullock brought the Blue Hawks back from a 53-49 deficit, starting with one of Nieves' four three-point plays. From there on out, the seniors scored all but four of the team's final 29 points.
Bittner had seven unanswered to and scored her 1,000th on a fast-break layup with an assist from Ashley Jelly that put DSU ahead 59-53 with 7:41 remaining.
"It was very emotional," Bittner said. "If I had time, I'm sure I would have cried."
She didn't have much time to think about the milestone though as the Comets began chipping away.
But, Bittner was there once again and gave the Blue Hawks a 64-59 advantage on a 3-pointer from the right corner that prompted an outburst and a big smile.
Mullock and Nieves took it from there, getting shots in the paint and at the line to distance DSU from Mayville State.
Nieves scored 18 points while Mullock added 12 points and five rebounds.
"They played like seniors tonight and they stepped up to the challenge," DSU head coach Andre Goldberg said. "Mandy, Jess and Kylie, they're all just people we really enjoy coaching because they put their whole heart into it. They don't want to see it end and we don't want to see it end for them either. They did everything they could tonight to help us win."
The Blue Hawks gave themselves a much-needed boost in their chances of qualifying for the NAIA Division II Independent tournament.
They visit Valley City State on Wednesday and host No. 8-ranked Jamestown College in their regular-season finale Sunday.
"I don't want my season to end without going to a tournament," Bittner said.
The Blue Hawks showed some intensity too, finishing with their third-highest point total of the season.
Mayville State for all but the final 21 seconds of the first half, though never by more than five points.
The Comets shot 7 of 19 from 3-point range in the first half but were just 2 of 14 the rest of the way.
Nieves' steal and layup with 21 seconds left finally put DSU on top 39-37, a lead it took into halftime.
The Comets quickly got back on top as senior Erin Ericson scored five of seven unanswered points to open the second half. Ericson made four of her five 3-pointers in the first half and scored a team-high 18 points.
DSU reclaimed the lead for good on Bittner's 3-pointer from the right corner with 9:35 left. Just over a minute later, she scored her 1,000th and the Blue Hawks rode the momentum from there.
"I though they were a little tougher than we were tonight, which is a little disappointing," Mayville State head coach Hutter said. "I just felt like they played a little harder than we did. I just don't think we were mentally we were here at all. Not taking anything away from them, they played hard. They hit some shots. They're a good team, and they're well coached."
MAYVILLE STATE (14-19, 2-2 DAC): Name Hailey Longtin 4-13 1-5 10, Erin Ericson 6-13 1-2 18, Kay Laforet 2-5 2-2 6, Missy Kassube 2-4 0-0 4, Megan Groen 5-10 3-4 14, Amber Montag 1-2 0-0 2, Nicole Meyer 0-0 0-0 0, Sabrina Rude 2-11 1-2 7, Hannah Wenaas 0-1 0-0 0, Erica Amann 0-0 0-0 0, Angela Tauer 2-3 1-1 5. Totals: 24-62 9-16 66.
DICKINSON STATE (10-17, 2-2 DAC): Name Mandy Mullock 3-12 6-6 12, Yianna Nadeau 1-8 0-0 2, Ashley Jelly 2-5 0-0 5, Kylee Bittner 9-17 2-4 23, Jessica Nieves 6-11 6-6 18, Jordyn Bender 2-8 0-0 5, Kersten Jaramillo 0-2 0-0 0, Devan Koch 3-4 0-2 6, Janae Moore 3-3 1-1 7. Totals: 29-70 15-19 78.
Halftime: DSU 39-37. Total fouls: MSU 15, DSU 17. Fouled out: Kassube. 3-point goals: MSU 9-33 (Ericson 5-11, Rude 2-9, Groen 1-5, Longtin 1-7, Laforet 0-1.), DSU 5-21 (Bittner 3-6, Jelly 1-3, Bender 1-6, Nadeau 0-4, Mullock 0-1, Nieves 0-1). Rebounds: MSU 39 (Groen 7), DSU 43 (Bittner 10). Assists: MSU 11 (Groen 3), DSU 12 (Bittner 3). Steals: MSU 9 (Longtin 3), DSU 7 (Jelly 2, Bittner 2). Turnovers: MSU 18 (Groen 6), DSU 13 (Nieves 4).