Miami, FL – Two down, two to go. FIU Basketball defeated Lousiana Tech to go two-for-two in Conference Bonus Play thus far. Last weekend, they traveled up the road, to Boca Raton and took the series win over the FAU Owls. This Wednesday they face last season’s Conference USA champs, Marshall, on the road. The Panthers lost their only meeting against the Thundering Herd in a close 105-97 game in Huntington, WV. This coming Saturday, They finish Bonus Play in the same fashion they closed out the regular season, hosting North Texas, whom they beat 69-59 at home from the Ocean Bank Convocation Center.
The Panthers brought out that aggressive style of play, attacking the rim, scoring at over a 50% mark in the paint, and putting up a very decent 70% free-throw shot, going seven-of-ten from the charity stripe. Willy Nunez Jr. and Isaiah Banks went three-for-three from the three-point line, but the rest of the squad couldn’t find the bottom of the net from deep, shooting O-for-six. This allowed LA Tech to stay in the game, only trailing 38-34 at the half.
In the 2nd half, the Bulldogs took advantage of some early Panthers mistakes. They also made FIU pay by sinking six three-pointers in the 1st five minutes! FIU lost the lead and Brian Beard Jr. left with an apparent shoulder injury within the 5th minute of play in the 2nd half. The Panthers, sensing the urgency after losing the Beard, stepped up their three-point game to keep it close, never going down by more than seven. Brian’s injury was just a scare though, as he returned to the game three and a half minutes later and immediately made his presence known, taking the ball inside to the rim. The Panthers would take the lead shortly after and they didn’t look back. FIU went on a 24-10 run to go from seven down to leading by seven and won the game 83-76 behind 21 points by Devon Andrews, who led all scorers.
Brian Beard Jr. reached a milestone today, joining six other Panthers as the only players to reach 1000 career points. He achieved the feat in only 60 games. He came into the game with 999 points, so he didn’t feel pressured to score with the achievement looming, saying “I wasn’t pressed to get it. I knew I was going to score one point today.” Brian has certainly been a shining star for this program, leading them to one of the better seasons in program history. Last week’s win over FAU secured FIU’s 1st winning season since 2012-13, and only the 2nd since 1999-00. That was in the previous millennium!
FIU was tied with LA Tech in the all-time series at 6-6, but they took the lead after tonight, also taking a 4-3 lead as both members of Conference USA. Next up, FIU travels to Marshall to face the Thundering Herd and Conference USA’s all-time leading scorer in Jon Elmore. In order for the Panthers to win, they’ll have to keep him in check, make their three-pointers, free throws, and limit turnovers.
— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) March 3, 2019
FIU returns home on Saturday to face North Texas for the end of Conference USA Bonus Play, looking to lock up that six seed. Stay tuned to Lemon City Live for all your FIU Panthers updates!
— Lemon City Live (@LemonCityLive) March 3, 2019