Montana State gets first NCAA Tournament trip since ’96

Mar 12, 2022, 5:48 AM | Updated: 7:52 pm
Montana State guard Xavier Bishop drives against Northern Colorado guard Dalton Knecht (5) during t...

Montana State guard Xavier Bishop drives against Northern Colorado guard Dalton Knecht (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game for the championship of the Big Sky men's tournament in Boise, Idaho, Saturday, March 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

(AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Xavier Bishop scored 19 points to help Montana State advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 26 years as the Bobcats routed Northern Colorado 87-66 in the Big Sky Conference tournament championship game on Saturday night.

Top-seeded Montana State (27-7) collected its third Big Sky Conference tournament championship and advanced to its fourth NCAA Tournament (1951, 1986, 1996).

Bishop was 5 of 15 from the floor and made a pair of 3-pointers. Amin Adamu had 16 points and Nick Gazelas 15 for Montana State, which shot 52% from the floor. Tyler Patterson added 14 points and made four of the Bobcats’ 10 3-pointers on 18 attempts. The Bobcats also blocked seven shots.

Daylen Kountz scored 20 points for third-seeded Northern Colorado (20-15). Dalton Knecht added 14 points, Kur Jongkuch had 12 and Bodie Hume 10.

Montana State opened on a 22-12 run and led 40-28 at the break. Patterson and Gazelas each had eights points and a pair of 3-pointers. The Bobcats made 15 of their 30 field goals and 6 of 12 from long range in the first half.

Kountz’s dunk pulled the Bears to 44-34 with 17:37 to play, but they didn’t get closer. Montana State had its biggest lead, 71-46, with 7:10 remaining.

Montana State, which also won the regular-season title, has won seven of its last eight games for the program’s highest win total since collecting 36 in the 1928-29 season. The Bobcats have also appeared in consecutive conference tournament championship games for the first time.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25Wednesday night.

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