Halifax (U SPORTS) – Defensive player of the year David Muenkat propelled the STFX X-Men to a 107-98 win over the Queen’s Gaels in the third quarter-final game at the 2023 U SPORTS Men’s Final 8 basketball championship on Friday.
The STFX X-Men started hot, getting out to a quick 10-0 lead, forcing the Queen’s Gaels to take an early timeout. Off the inbound from the timeout, STFX’s Steven Levnaic intercepted a wayward Gaels pass before feeding David Muenkat for the slam. The X-Men set the tone, ending the first quarter with a 32-12 lead.
In the first half, Queen’s shot only 25 per cent from the field and mismanaged the ball allowing STFX six steals. Brandon Aultman led the Gaels with 15 points, but the X-Men closed out the half up by a commanding 30 points.
The Gaels returned to the court with a new fire and outscored the X-Men 24-14 in the third but still had a large deficit of 20 points to overcome in the final frame. Cole Syllas was strong on the boards through the first three quarters, pulling down 12 rebounds and adding 12 points.
The Gaels continued their strong second-half performance in the fourth, outscoring the X-Men again. With only a couple of minutes to go, the X-Men led by as little as seven points. In the final frame, fans of the blue and white were the most nervous they had been all game but helped lift their team with several Go X Go chants. The X-Men outlasted a comeback and went on to win the game 107-98.
Defensive player of the year, Muenkat showed off his offensive side, racking up 27 points and adding eight rebounds on the way to being named a Nike Top Performer, Syllas named the Nike Top Performer for Queen’s.
The win pushes STFX into the semifinal at 8 p.m. (all times Atlantic) on Saturday, and Queen’s drops to the consolation final at 2 p.m.
Nike Top Performers
- STFX: David Muenkat
- Queen’s: Cole Syllas