Junior point guard earns conference accolade

Junior point guard Brian Beard, Jr. (4) celebrates with his teammates, following his game-winning three-point shot against Louisiana Tech on Feb. 3, 2018 at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center. (Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics)

By Brett Shweky/Sports Director


Point guard Brian Beard, Jr. has been named Player of the Week by Conference USA, following his elite performances last week, which led the Panthers to two-straight victories.

The junior is the first men’s basketball player to receive the honor since 2015, when former forward Adrian Diaz earned the accolade.

In his most recent game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on Saturday, Feb. 3, Beard, Jr. had a game for the ages.

With FIU trailing 68-65 in the final moments of the game against the Bulldogs, Beard, Jr. led the team to a comeback win by converting two three-point shots in ten seconds. Beard’s clutch three-pointers resulted in the Panthers to defeat the Bulldogs 71-68.

The victory brought FIU’s overall record to (11-13) and conference record to (5-6), while the Bulldogs fell to (14-10) overall and (5-6) in C-USA. With the win, the Panthers are now riding a two-game winning streak, and have secured back-to-back conference wins for the first time since defeating UTSA on Jan. 21, 2016, and UTEP on Jan. 23, 2016.

Panthers’ Head Coach Anthony Evans discussed how the team needs to play like this on a more regular basis and string together victories to make a run at the conference tournament.

“We got to be consistent, we need to be consistent with our effort and our execution,” said Evans. “We have to put it together and more games will be won.”

As the fourth quarter’s clock began to expire, the Panthers had a one-point edge against the Bulldogs with a score of 65-64. Louisiana Tech’s Jy’lan Washington snapped the Panthers’ lead, as the Bulldog nailed two free throws to give his team a one-point lead.

The Panthers’ hopes were beginning to dwindle when Beard, Jr., who was struggling for most of the game, missed a field goal with 11 seconds remaining on the clock. The Bulldogs’ Oliver Powell hauled in the rebound and was immediately fouled, resulting in him being sent to the free throw line. Powell drained both of his free throws to put LA Tech up 68-65.

The late-game heroics began, as Beard, Jr. received the inbound pass and drove the length of the court with time expiring. The junior point guard drifted to the right corner of the three-point line and converted a fade-away three to tie the game 68 a piece with three seconds left.

FIU miraculously received the ball back, when LA Tech’s Washington took the inbound pass and stepped out of bounds with 2.5 seconds remaining. This led to Beard, Jr. to beat the buzzer and to complete the comeback with a game-winning three-point shot.

Beard, Jr. concluded the game by securing his first career double-double with a game-high 19 points and 10 assists.

While facing the Southern Miss Golden Eagles earlier in the week on Feb. 1, the junior displayed his multidimensional skill set, leading the Panthers to 76-70 victory. He shot an efficient 50 percent field goal percentage, and finished with a game-high 23 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and two steals.

The point guard’s performance against the Golden Eagles marked the third-straight game where the junior scored 20 points or more.

Next up for Beard, Jr. and the Panthers, the team will travel to Huntington W. VA. to face the (15-8) Marshall Thundering Herd. Marshall is currently tied for fourth in the C-USA standing, with a conference record of (6-4). Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.

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