updated 09/24/2013 AT 10:50 AM ET
•originally published 09/24/2013 AT 9:00 AM ET
“This has taught me that I can do a lot more than I thought I could,” a choked-up Riley, 27, told PEOPLE after scoring 24 points for her jive with Derek Hough on Monday night’s show.
“Tonight was – I’m not even on camera and I’m crying like a dork. But it really has taught me that I can do more than I thought I could.”
Part of what has helped her believe in herself is support from Emmy winner Hough.
“Derek keeps me from getting negative,” Riley explains. “When I get to that place, he’s good at redirecting me. Even in my everyday life, I can learn from that.”
Adds the star: “I’m just having so much fun. I’m having so much fun that I don’t even think about [scores], especially when I’m on the dance floor.”