GREENSBORO, N.C. — Montana State’s stay at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was again short-lived.
The 14th-seeded Bobcats got 26 points from RaeQuan Battle but weren’t able to keep pace with No. 3 seed Kansas State in a 77-65 first-round loss Friday night at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C.
Keyontae Johnson had 18 points and eight rebounds and Markquis Nowell added 17 points and 14 assists to lead the Wildcats to their first NCAA tourney victory since 2018. Kansas State, now 24-9, advanced to play No. 6 seed Kentucky in a second-round game on Sunday.
Montana State, which finished its season with a 25-10 record, was making its second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. Last year, the Bobcats were also a 14 seed and lost 97-62 to No. 3 Texas Tech in San Diego.
Against K-State, Battle made 9 of 17 field goals and hit three 3-pointers. Darius Brown II and Great Osobor both had 12 points. Brown dished out nine assists and Osobor had seven rebounds.
MSU big man Jubrile Belo had just five points and didn't attempt a field goal until nearly five minutes had passed in the second half. MSU was also uncharacteristically limited at the foul line and made just 9 of 17 free throws.
Kansas State led by as many as 16 in the second half. MSU trailed by 13 points with 6:52 remaining when the Wildcats' Desi Sills made a driving layup. The Bobcats pared their deficit to eight points on a 3-pointer from Brown with 2:47 left but got no closer.
The Big Sky Conference is still seeking its first NCAA tournament victory since 2006 when 12th-seeded Montana beat No. 5 Nevada.