Beasley reaches team milestone

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Beasley reaches team milestone

Illinois guard Brandi Beasley goes up for a layup during the game against Nebraska at the State Farm Center on Jan. 17. The Illini lost 77-67.

Illinois guard Brandi Beasley goes up for a layup during the game against Nebraska at the State Farm Center on Jan. 17. The Illini lost 77-67.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois guard Brandi Beasley goes up for a layup during the game against Nebraska at the State Farm Center on Jan. 17. The Illini lost 77-67.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois guard Brandi Beasley goes up for a layup during the game against Nebraska at the State Farm Center on Jan. 17. The Illini lost 77-67.

As junior guard Brandi Beasley stood up after drawing a shooting foul, she knew the next two shots were not going to feel like a normal trip to the charity stripe.

Beasley came into the game just four points shy of 1,000 for her career. After she drained her first basket, Michigan State sent her to the line in the middle of the third quarter.

Beasley stepped to the line and rattled in both free throws. She felt the nerves of the situation and was worried that she might miss.

“One of our coaches was teasing me that I might walk away from the game with only three points,” Beasley said. “You just kind of have nerves building on the edge, but I was excited once I got those points knocked off with the second free throw I made.”

She started the game off a little out of rhythm, but quickly found her footing after she scored her 1,000th point.

“Once I got those points knocked off, it was a little easier to let my game flow because I was thinking about it for a little bit,” Beasley said.

Beasley became the 30th Illini to reach the 1,000-point milestone and ended the night with 15 points in a 77-60 loss against Michigan State.

It should not come as a surprise that Beasley reached the 1,000-point plateau.

Even as a freshman, Beasley made an immediate impact on the program. She was near the top in the nation with her 36.2 minutes played per game and set a record for Illini freshmen with six completed three-pointers in a game against South Dakota. Furthermore, Beasley ranked second among freshmen in the Big Ten with her 15.3 points per game in conference play and ended the season strong, as she was voted into the Big Ten All-Freshman team.

Coach Fahey has seen Beasley’s strong work ethic and competitive drive ever since meeting Beasley for the first time.

“Hard work and attitude are skill sets,” Fahey said. “Sometimes when you take it to the next level, you’re challenged at a new level; but at the same time I don’t create heart. I think kids are born with that.”

As she joins elite company by scoring that 1,000th point, Beasley knows she’s come a long way since first joining the Illini.

“I was just blessed to be able to play basketball at this level, I never really thought about scoring 1,000 points,” Beasley said.

Her humility and laid-back demeanor have also made her beloved to both Illinois teammates and coaches.

“Brandi’s very calm and collected on the court and a genuine person off the court, which is very refreshing,” said senior forward Alex Wittinger.

Fahey feels Beasley’s hard work on and off the court is a testament to who she is.

“We’re trying to build a culture here that you see kids with a great work ethic, Fahey said. “That’s on and off the court; I don’t think personalities change. You can’t be like all of a sudden, ‘Hey, I’m a hard worker;’ I’m looking for kids who have that and that’s what (Beasley) does. That’s a great role model.”

What makes Beasley’s accomplishment even more impressive is that scoring might not even be her greatest strength. During her freshman year, Beasley was one of four Illini in history to ever dish out over 100 assists in their first year at 120 assists total. In her sophomore season, she also led the team in assists with 111. This season has been no different, she once again leads the team with 96 assists over the course of the year so far. With 10 games left to go, Beasley has a shot at setting a new career high after this season.

“Especially in a team game, (Beasley’s) a distributor, Fahey said. “She passes the ball a lot and so to get (to a 1,000 points) it’s even tougher.”

On top of being a great scorer and passer for the team, Beasley prides herself on the leadership she provides for her teammates, especially to the underclassmen.

“I’m one of the leaders on the floor,” Beasley said. “One of my coaches said I have to stay aggressive in order for my teammates to be aggressive. The ball is in my hand the majority of the time so when I’m playing aggressively a team usually follows suit with their point guard and plays up to that level.

Being the team player that she is, Beasley seemed clear about the next set of goals she’d like to accomplish.

“I’m really focusing on turning this team around and getting back on a winning streak,” Beasley said.

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