Dallinger’s 36-point night powers Miles to upset win over Gulf Coast in OT
LUBBOCK, Texas – Rebekah Dallinger came as advertised.
The leading scorer in the nation at 25.3 points per game, the freshman from Sydney, Australia got off to a hot start and closed the deal at the end, and was a factor pretty much everywhere in between for the Miles Community College Pioneers in their first-round game at the NJCAA Women’s Division I National Championships, and for that reason the Pioneers are moving on.
Dallinger scored 10 of her game-high 36 points in overtime, and Miles upset defending champion Gulf Coast State, 76-72, on Monday at the Rip Griffin Center, sending home the program that had won three of the last four titles.
“This is why you come to Miles City and try to go to the national tournament,” Pioneers head coach Taylor Harris said of his school located in the southeastern part of the state. “We get to play a team that’s just won three of the last four national championships. How cool is that? You come here because you want to play the best, everybody’s watching, all the coaches are watching. That’s why you do this, so this is amazing for us.”
With the win, the Pioneers (24-1) advance to the second round on Tuesday to take on No. 2 seed Trinity Valley Community College at 6 p.m. The Cardinals will have to find a way to slow down the versatile Dallinger, who showed she can score from pretty much anywhere on the court.
She finished the game 11 of 29 from the field and 13 of 16 from the free-throw line, showing she can hit from outside and in the paint. What Montana knew coming in, now the rest of the world knows.
“I’m so proud of here,” Harris said. “She gambled on herself and came to a small town in Montana, and now on the big stage she can show everybody in the country. I believe she’s the best player in the country, and she really showed that tonight. I’m so proud of her, I could cry. She deserves this, all the girls deserve this moment.”
While the Pioneers are moving on, Gulf Coast didn’t go quietly.
The Commodores were an eyelash away from advancing to the second round themselves, but Jana Conejero for Miles hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 9.1 seconds to play to force overtime. In the extra period, that’s when Dallinger took over.
After two quick buckets by the Commodores put them up 67-65, Dallinger scored four straight, and Kate Tanner added two free throws to put the Pioneers up 71-67. From there, the Pioneers iced it at the free-throw line, with Dallinger hitting four and Olyvia Pacheco hitting one to seal the win.
Lili Long added 14 points for the Pioneers.
Nia Daniel, who has signed with Alabama, led Gulf Coast with 20 points while Avalon Miller and Cabria Lewis added 13 each in the loss for the Commodores.
Dallinger showed early on she was deserving of the hype, coming out blazing for the Pioneers, scoring six straight and 11 of her 15 first-half points in the seven minutes of the game to get Miles off to an incredible start.
Dallinger cooled off in the second quarter and that allowed Gulf Coast to chip away at its deficit. Back-to-back treys from Adrian Crockwell and Daniel pulled the Commodores to within 24-21 early in the period. Miles used a 6-3 run to extend its lead to 30-24 before Gulf Coast scored five straight to get within one at 30-29 with just under a minute to play.
Miles, however, closed the first half with two free throws from Pacheco and a Dallinger layup to lead 34-29 at the break.
Gulf Coast used a 9-0 run late in the third period to finally break through and lead 45-44 with 2:02 left in the third quarter and held a 51-50 lead going into the final period, but could not hang on down the stretch as Miles forced overtime, then won it in the extra period.