Men’s Basketball places sixth at U SPORTS Nationals Championship

Gaels end season with best regular season record in program history

Cole Syllas attacks the rim.
Supplied by Trevor MacMillan/StFX Athletics.

Queen’s Men’s Basketball finished sixth at the U SPORTS National Championship over the weekend.

The Gaels lost a close quarterfinal match against AUS champions and host St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) X-Men 107-98 on March 11.

They bounced back with a dominant 93-68 win against the UPEI Panthers in the consolation semi-final the next day, before falling in a close game 85-89 to the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins in the consolation final on Sunday.

“Our approach has been on a day-to-day basis of trying to get better in every single way—on the court, in the classroom, with each other, the connections made, the relationships,” Head Coach Stephen Barrie said in a post-game interview with Athletics and Recreation (A&R).

“The results will take care of themselves. I would never exchange what we've done here just to win a national championship.”

Queen’s started off shaky in their first match against the X-Men, going down 12-0 less than three minutes into the first quarter and trailing by 30 points going into the second half.

After the half-time break, the Gaels—led by a dominant performance from U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian Cole Syllas—clawed back into the game. Syllas almost recorded a triple-double with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 assists.

They cut the StFX’s lead to 5 points with 1:33 remaining in the fourth before a crucial block from U SPORTS Defensive Player of the Year David Muenkat stopped the Gaels momentum, allowing the X-Men to hold their lead.

“The game was being called loose […] our guys just didn't adjust to that very well. [That] caused some turnovers early for us, which led to some easy baskets,” Barrie told A&R in his post-game interview.

“We came out as a different team in the second half, but we needed to have found that much earlier.”

The Gaels carried their second half momentum into their consolation semi-final matchup against the UPEI Panthers. Outscoring the Panthers in each quarter, they cruised to victory by a margin of 25 points.

With five players scoring double-digits points—including a combined 28 points from Scott Jenkins and Cameron Bett off the bench—the win was truly a team effort.

In the consolation final match against UQAM, Luka and Cole—the Syllas brothers—led scoring with 23 points each. However, the Citadins matched each shot Queen’s made, holding the lead throughout the game by a couple points.

Despite tying the game twice and trailing by one with 2:26 left after a three-pointer from Michael Kelvin II, the Gaels just couldn’t pull ahead. A layup and a couple free-throws in the final minutes from the Citadins ended the game and Queen’s season.

While a disappointing result given the high expectations, there were plenty of highlights throughout the season including a U SPORTS Coach of the Year Award for Barrie.

When asked about the award in his post-game interview, Barrie highlighted the people who have helped him early in his career.

“I played for two amazing coaches—Craig Boydell and Mike Katz—who were massively influential figures in my life […] If I can be a fraction of that to the players we have, then that's what coaching at this level is all about.”

He also emphasized the impact that the entire program has had on his success, including the support from administration, strength and conditioning, managers, therapists, and the players.

“I fully believe Coach of the Year is the award that really encompasses the program as a whole.”

“The reason our program is doing well is because we have everyone involved pulling this in the right direction. […] I don't take this as an individual award in any capacity, and I'm just very proud to be a part of the Queen's Men's Basketball program.”

Looking to move forward to next year, Barrie wants the Gaels to use their two tough losses at Nationals as a learning experience.

“The end goal was a national championship, and we have almost everyone back next year. We certainly are going to try and learn from this as a program, grow from it over the summer, [and] go for it next year.”

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.