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MSUM point guard Jacob Beeninga binging for league-leading Dragons

MSUM sophomore Jacob Beeninga has helped the Dragons to the top of the NSIC standings.

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Minnesota State Moorhead point guard Jacob Beeninga goes up for two against Northern State during their men's basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at Moorhead.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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MOORHEAD — Jacob Beeninga has childhood memories of playing a full-court basketball shooting game — on “Little Tikes” baskets — in the basement of his family home with a couple of his siblings.

Tears were shed and the competition was fierce.

“We would compete so hard against each other,” said Beeninga, from Maple Grove, Minn.

That drive has remained with Beeninga, now the starting point guard for the Minnesota State Moorhead men’s basketball team. The 6-foot sophomore is averaging 18.1 points per game to lead the Dragons who are in first place in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

“That kid just makes game-winning plays over and over and over and over again,” said Dragons senior guard Gavin Baumgartner, who was also a teammate with Beeninga at Wayzata (Minn.) High School.

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Minnesota State Moorhead guard Gavin Baumgartner, left, was also teammates with Dragons guard Jacob Beeninga at Wayzata (Minn.) High School.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

Beeninga has six siblings, three older and three younger. His older brother Johnny Beeninga is a former Dragons point guard, while younger brother Eddie Beeninga is a redshirt freshman guard for MSUM. Jacob said Johnny and Eddie were who he usually competed against during those childhood basketball games in the basement.

“Basketball has always been my thing,” Jacob said.

Jacob is averaging 30.7 points per game over the past three games as the Dragons next play Upper Iowa at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, in Fayette, Iowa. MSUM (17-3, 12-2 NSIC) is atop the NSIC North and overall league standings and has won 14 of its past 15 games.

“Everything he’s doing is not a surprise to me,” said MSUM head coach Tim Bergstraser.

Jacob scored 25 points in an 86-76 home victory against Minnesota State-Mankato on Saturday. He also scored 36 points in a road victory against the University of Sioux Falls the weekend before and followed that with a 31-point effort against Concordia-St. Paul on Friday at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse. He's shooting 50% (30 of 60) from the field during that stretch.

“I know how good he could be and I think this is kind of the start of it,” Baumgartner said. “It’s not something that’s going to go away. I think he’s good enough to do it consistently.”

Baumgartner said Jacob’s fearlessness was there in high school when Jacob was the starting point guard for Wayzata as a sophomore, taking over that position after Johnny graduated.

Jacob scored 15 points against Champlin Park in the 2017 Minnesota Class 4A state semifinals. Champlin Park — led by guard McKinley Wright IV — scored a 70-62 victory in that game. Wright now plays for the Dallas Mavericks.

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“He played really well,” Baumgartner said of Jacob. “Hit a bunch of shots.”

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Jacob was a three-year starter for Wayzata and finished his prep career as the program’s all-time scoring leader with 1,549 points.

“I have a lot of confidence in myself,” Jacob said. “When I step on the court, I don’t really care who I am going against.”

Jacob is also one of the top defenders for the Dragons, added Bergstraser.

“If you can guard, you can play,” Baumgartner said. “I think that’s probably the biggest thing now is how good he guards, it’s unbelievable. I hate it when he gets switched on to me (in practice) and I’m trying to post him up. It’s not easy. He just walls you up.”

Jacob said his recent scoring success is more of a product of playing with other talented players. Senior guard Lorenzo McGhee, who is 6-foot-5, is averaging 14.2 points per game, while the 6-foot-4 Baumgartner is scoring 13.3 points per contest. Jacob, McGhee, Baumgartner and senior forward Jaden Stanley-Williams have all led the team in scoring in at least one game this season.

“It’s definitely the way our team is set up,” Jacob said. “Any of us can pop off like that. We have a lot of talent on our team and it’s going to switch night to night.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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