SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (MSUM Athletics) -- The Minnesota State University Moorhead men's basketball team earned a spot in the semifinals of the NSIC Sanford Health Tournament for the first time since 2016 after taking a commanding 82-66 victory over Upper Iowa on Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Dragons are the third seed in the north division, while Upper Iowa was the second seed in the south division. MSUM improves to 19-11 overall, while Upper Iowa finishes the year at 19-11.
MSUM shot 54.1 percent (33-of-61) and 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from beyond the arc compared to 36.5 percent (23-of-63) from the field and 30.4 percent (7-of-23) from three for the Peacocks.
Senior guard Johnny Beeninga led the Dragons with a season-high 22 points. Sophomore guard Gavin Baumgartner finished with 18 points, five rebounds, and a team-high four assists. Junior forward Joe Sevlie scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting off the bench. Sevlie also led the Dragons in rebounds with seven. Freshman forward Dane Zimmer finished with nine points.
In the first half, Upper Iowa jumped out and scored the games first five points. The Dragons would respond with a 9-0 run, and once they took the lead — and MSUM would go on to never trail for the remainder of the game. The Dragons continued to extend their lead, and a three-pointer by Beeninga with 3:34 remaining in the first half gave the Dragons a 33-19 lead. MSUM finished the half out strong thanks to a three-pointer by freshman forward Jack Rusch, which would give the Dragons a 41-24 lead heading into halftime.
In the second half, the Dragons continued to dominate. A three-pointer by Beeninga with 17:21 left on the clock gave the Dragons a 22-point lead at 46-24, which was their largest of the game. With 10:50 remaining, a Baumgartner three-pointer put the Dragons up 58-43. MSUM continued to extend the lead, and a layup by Beeninga with 1:30 left on the clock pushed the Dragons to a 20-point lead over the Peacocks at 80-60 on their way to the 16-point win.
The Dragons now look ahead to the semifinals. MSUM will take on Northern State on Monday at 12 p.m. The Dragons won their first matchup with Northern State on Nov. 30, winning 81-74 at home. MSUM lost their second matchup of the year against the Wolves, losing 95-64 on the road on Dec. 21. The winner of the semifinals matchup will advance to the championship game on Tuesday, March 3 at 5 p.m. at the Sanford Pentagon.