McGhee's dramatic buzzer beater lifts Dragons into NSIC championship game

28 days ago InForum

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Lorenzo McGhee was pure from long-range as time expired Monday night at the Sanford Pentagon and that shot vaulted Minnesota State Moorhead onto the championship stage.

McGhee swished a step-back buzzer beater from around 22 feet to lift the Dragons to a dramatic 78-77 victory against Bemidji State in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference men's basketball semifinals.

“There’s no way to describe that shot," said Dragons guard Jacob Beeninga. “I think he’s the best player in the country no matter what the numbers say. I tell him that every day. He’s our guy.”

McGhee finished with 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting from the floor.

“This was probably the best shot of my career, best moment of my career so far and I just want to keep going," said McGhee, who is from Decatur, Ga.


The Dragons (24-6) play Minnesota Duluth (23-8) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, for the NSIC tournament title with the winner earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division II tournament. MSUM is the defending tournament champion, knocking off UMD in the title game last season.

“It’s a big deal," said Dragons head coach Tim Bergstraser, in his first season leading the program. "I think it says a lot about anybody’s program if you are contending for a championship. We don’t take that for granted.”

The Dragons led by as many as 14 points in the second half before Bemidji State stormed back. McGhee scored the game's final four points to spoil the rally. The 6-foot-5 senior sank two foul shots to cut the BSU lead to 77-76 with 17 seconds remaining.

Beavers guard Mohamed Kone missed the front end of a bonus with 15 seconds remaining, setting the stage for McGhee's heroics. McGhee to the ball on the wing with less than three seconds remaining and dribbled his way into a step-back shot for the game-winner with his toe on the 3-point line for a 78-77 lead. The ball went through the net as the final horn sounded.

“He’s our playmaker," Bergstraser said. “He’s one of those guys who thinks he’s going to hit those tough shots. That’s how he’s wired.”

McGheeGameWinner.jpeg Minnesota State Moorhead guard Lorenzo McGhee elevates for the contested game-winning shot against Bemidji State on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in the NSIC men's basketball semifinals at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Avery Nelson / Dragons Athletics

The Dragons took a 48-34 lead after senior guard Gavin Baumgartner sank a 17-foot jumper with 16 minutes, 55 seconds remaining. Bemidji State, however, clawed back into the game behind junior forward John Sutherland and Kone. Sutherland scored a game-high 26 points, while Kone added 22.


Kone sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key that tied the score at 59-59 with 6:30 remaining. The Beavers took a 75-71 lead after Sutherland hit a contested jump shot in the middle of the lane with 45 seconds remaining. That was BSU's largest lead in the second half.

“We were playing a little rattled," Bergstraser said. "We were a little out of character when they were making their run there. That can’t happen at this point. The guys know that and they’re going to fix that.”

The Dragons countered with seven of the game's final nine points, including a Baumgartner 3-point play — with 34 second remaining — to rally for victory.

“We fight. I love the togetherness and I love the fight of my team," McGhee said. "We weren’t going to give up until the clock strikes zero.”

MSUM was in control early and built a cushion with a 10-run that started near the midway point of the first half. Senior forward Jaden Stanley-Williams sank two 3-pointers during that stretch. Dane Zimmer capped the rally with layup for a 28-18 lead with 7:18 remaining in the half. Zimmer finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

MSUM lead by as many as 13 points in the first half and carried a 40-30 lead into halftime. Beeninga had 11 points, including three 3-pointers, over the first 20 minutes. He finished with a team-high 22 points.

The Dragons shot 53% (16 of 30) from the floor and 55% (6 of 11) from 3-point range in the opening half. They cooled in the second half, while Bemidji State shot 60% (18 of 30) from the field and 63% (5 of 8) from 3-point range in the second half to rally.


McGhee, however, delivered when it mattered most.

“He hit the shot. It’s crazy," Beeninga said. “He makes shots like that every day. To us that’s an everyday thing for him. ... He puts in the work.”

KinseyDragons.jpg Minnesota State Moorhead forward Logan Kinsey dunks the ball against Bemidji State on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in the NSIC men's basketball semifinals at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Avery Nelson / Dragons Athletics

BSU (20-11): Albrecht 3-12 2-2 8, Smith 2-4 0-0 4, Tennyson 6-11 0-0 17, Sutherland 12-19 2-3 26, Kone 8-14 4-5 22, Lowman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-60 8-10 77.

MSUM (24-6): Stanley-Williams 2-4 0-0 6, McGhee 5-11 6-6 16, Baumgartner 4-10 3-3 12, Zimmer 6-6 0-0 12, Beeninga 7-21 3-6 22, Kinsey 3-3 0-2 6, Kaiser 0-3 4-4 4. Totals 27-58 16-21 78.

Half: MSUM 40, BSU 30. 3-point goals: BSU 7-19 (Albrecht 0-4, Smith 0-1, Tennyson 5-9, Sutherland 0-1, Kone 2-4), MSUM 8-22 (Stanley-Williams 2-3, McGhee 0-2, Baumgartner 1-5, Beeninga 5-10, Kaiser 0-2). Total fouls: BSU 16, MSUM 14. Fouled out: Tennyson. Rebounds: BSU 29 (Albrecht 10), MSUM 34 (Zimmer 15). Assists: BSU 13 (Smith 4, Sutherland 4), MSUM 12 (Baumgartner 4, Zimmer 4). Turnovers: BSU 7, MSUM 8.

vs bemidji-11.jpg Minnesota State Moorhead guard Gavin Baumgartner looks for an opening while guarded by Bemidji State guard Mohamed Kone on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in the NSIC men's basketball semifinals at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Avery Nelson / Dragons Athletics

Beeninga vs bemidji-7.jpg Minnesota State Moorhead guard Jacob Beeninga tries to drive to the basket against Bemidji State on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in the NSIC men's basketball semifinals at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Avery Nelson / Dragons Athletics


Lorenzo McGhee vs bemidji-20.jpg Minnesota State Moorhead guard Lorenzo McGhee (1) looks to drive against Bemidji State on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in the NSIC men's basketball semifinals at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Avery Nelson / Dragons Athletics

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