SALEM, Mass. -- Travonne Berry-Rogers had a message for his team before Lynn English’s rematch with Salem on Tuesday night. The talented guard wanted to remind everyone of the sting he felt after Salem handed the Bulldogs their only loss of the season.
He wanted his team to get a little payback, and even though the message didn’t really drive home until the waning moments of the game, Lynn English avenged that sting with a 19-3 run in the final 3:27 of the game to take a 78-70 victory over the Witches (15-3) at Veterans Memorial Field House.
“We never forget it,” Berry-Rogers said of the only blip on the radar for the Bulldogs this season. “When you have a loss, there is nothing you can do except for fix it. That’s what we did tonight.”
Berry-Rogers went 3-for-6 from deep on the way to a team-high 26 points. His 11 crucial points in the fourth quarter helped turnaround a game in which the Bulldogs (17-1) never led until 1:04 left in the fourth.
Keandre Stanton stood tall in the middle for the Bulldogs with 13 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Corey McMillan added 23 points, and all three Bulldogs mentioned helped ice the game with six consecutive made free throws, two apiece, to cap off the comeback.
“Our kids showed a lot of heart tonight,” Bulldogs head coach Buzzy Barton said.
For three quarters it looked like Salem had the right potion to put the Bulldogs out for the count, again. Antonio Reyes shined with 34 points and 15 rebounds. He single-handedly helped spur a 9-0 run by grabbing rebounds, starting breaks and nailing a straightaway 3-pointer to push the lead to 11.
The Witches struggled to an 8-for-32 night from behind the arc, but Reyes was true on all four of his attempts in the second half.
After Reyes’ 3-pointer, the Bulldogs were finally able to mount some sort of resemblance of their up-tempo game. Rogers-Berry collected eight straight points, including a continuation bucket to pull the game to 48-46.
The Witches came out flying in the fourth with an 8-2 run and would push the lead to 69-59 with 3:27 left in the game.
Enter Berry-Rogers’ message.
Barton sent the Bulldogs on an all-out press for the remainder of the game, and all his team did was hold Salem to three points over that stretch.
“That’s been out bread and butter,” Barton said of his defense. “We pressure teams and wear them down.”
The main reason for the press was to slow down Reyes and force other players get in to situations they may not be comfortable in.
“We call it jumping him,’” Barton said of the defensive strategy. “We have a man that plays on him and every time he touches the ball we have a somebody at him”
Josh Castillo used that defense to perfection when he made a steal at halfcourt and put it in on the other end to grab a 70-69 lead with 1:04 left. Reyes would make 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 70.
Berry-Rogers came down the lane and popped at the elbow to regain the lead for good, before the Bulldogs made Barton very happy with six straight made free throws in a tight spot.
“I was able to settle down and in an atmosphere like that sometimes you get away from yourself,” Berry-Rogers said of his fourth quarter output. “You’ve got to lower your emotions. You’ve got to lower your energy and your emotions at the same time and that’s what I did in the fourth quarter.”
Salem now drops two games behind the Bulldogs in the Northeastern Conference.
“They came up with the key plays when they needed too, and that’s why they won the game,” said Salem coach Tom Doyle.