Gaels eliminate No. 1 ranked Ravens in Men’s Basketball

Queen’s upsets Carleton 86-80 in cOUA East Final, to play for first Wilson Cup since 1936 

Supplied by Athletics and Recreation

The Queen’s Men’s Basketball team managed the upset of the year on Wednesday night, eliminating the reigning U Sports Champions Carleton Ravens from the OUA playoffs, 86-80.

Handing the Ravens their first—and last—defeat of the 2021-22 season, the Gaels will head to the OUA finals on Saturday, where they’ll play the Brock Badgers for the Wilson Cup. In defeating Carleton, the Gaels also qualified for their first-ever U Sports national championship, which will take place at the University of Alberta from Mar. 31 to April 3.

Third-year Cole Syllas led the Gaels stat sheet with a game-high 39 points and 10 rebounds. Syllas and fifth-year Quinton Gray combined for nine of the team’s 12 three-point field goals for the outing.

“I thought we played a very good game overall,” head coach Steph Barrie told The Journal in an interview following the game. “[But] as in every game, there are things that you have to clean up.”

“We’re working pretty hard today to look at the tape and find where we need to be a little bit better moving forward.”

Coming out of the gate hot, the Gaels put out an impressive showing in the first quarter, dominating the offensive glass with six rebounds en route to a 21-12 lead before the second frame. 

The Gaels lost some rhythm throughout the second quarter, getting outscored 17-23 and posting six team fouls to Carleton’s four. With less than a minute left in the half, the Ravens came within a point, but after a go-ahead layup from fifth-year Connor Keefe, the Gaels pushed their distance on Carleton to three ahead of halftime.

After the break, the Gaels fought back against a resurgent Ravens offense, throwing up six three-pointers along with 61 per cent shooting from the field to hold onto their lead by two despite being outscored by Carleton 25-24 for the quarter.

Despite leading into the final frame, Queen’s went down by eight after a 10-0 run by the Ravens to start the fourth. 

Fighting back with a string of contested layups and three-point makes, however, the Gaels quickly found their footing and were able to go up by six with 20 seconds to go—courtesy of a free-throw from third-year Cole Syllas—which capped off a stunning upset and a historic win for the Queen’s Men’s Basketball program.

The win was Queen’s first over Carleton since 1998 and will mark the first time Queen’s has played in an OUA final—and qualified for the national championship—since the advent of the “modern” U Sports postseason format in the 1960s. 

Before Wednesday’s game, Carleton was in search of their fourth straight OUA championship and their third-straight national championship. They’ve also won nine of the last ten national championships, dating back to the 2010-11 season.

Despite the significance of their victory, coach Barrie remains steadfast about focusing on the team’s appearances in the coming week. 

“When the season’s over, we will get a chance to digest this and figure out what it means. But we just don’t have time to do that right now,” he said. “Our motto all year has been to get better every day […] Hopefully by the time we get to Nationals we will have gotten one per cent better over the last seven days and have a chance to take home the national championship.”

Tip-off for the Wilson Cup will be at 4 p.m. at Brock University, Mar. 26.


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