CARBONDALE — Less than four minutes into the second half, SIU found itself trailing Bradley, 35-26.

For most of the night, the Braves had the 6-foot-9 Jordon Prosser on the floor. When Prosser was on the bench, 7-1 Nate Wells was in the pivot and the 6-8 Shayok Shayok saw considerable playing time.

In the meantime, 6-5 Desmar Jackson was frequently the tallest Saluki on the floor. As a result, playing a zone wasn’t an option. It was a necessity.

The Salukis used the zone effectively in the second half, took a late lead in the game, but ultimately dropped a 66-60 decision.

“I thought for the most part, it was effective,” said SIU coach Barry Hinson. “We just can’t hide a couple of players. Even in the zone, you saw what happened, they got behind us. We’re not aware.”

SIU created several turnovers out of the zone, cutting the lead to 39-37 on a Josh Swan run-out, following a steal.

Swan had one of the toughest assignments on the evening. The 6-foot-1 sophomore played the middle of the 2-3 zone, battling Prosser and Wells. Jeff Early also drew that assignment.

“You saw how they played,” said an emotional Hinson. “They just battled their tails off. You’re talking about 6-10 on 6-2, 6-9 on 6-1. Bless their hearts, they’re doing what we ask them to do.”

Bradley coach Geno Ford said despite SIU’s lack of height, it was difficult to feed the post when the Salukis played the zone.

“It’s length,” Early said. “We’re not as tall as most people, but we’re long, with Des up there and Kendall’s quickness. And with me, Tay (Davante Drinkard) and Josh back there, we’re quick. We’re able to force some turnovers. That helped us a lot. We forced them to slow down their pace and pass the ball around.”

On the other hand, the zone is no panacea.

“We just broke down,” Early said. “Davante got caught looking. He didn’t see somebody behind him and they got a couple easy layups. Right now, with our size sometimes that zone is good for us. We just have to communicate more in the zone.” / 618-351-5088

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