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The Blue Devils have won seven of their last eight games led by a suffocating defense.

Stock watch: Duke women's lacrosse on the rise, men's lacrosse also rolling



The bell of the Blue Zone stock exchange has rung again, meaning it's time to take a look at who is rising and falling with their performances for Blue Devil sports teams. The Blue Zone takes a look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the world of Duke athletics.

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Duke women’s lacrosse: Winless and toothless, the Blue Devils had looked lost in ACC play so far this year—until Saturday.

After a 2-6 slump left them in danger of not making the NCAA tournament, they bounced back with a 15-12 upset victory against No. 14 Boston College on the road. Duke had built some defensive momentum in a close loss to Syracuse April 2, forcing 19 Orange turnovers, and eventually translated it into a win against the Eagles.

The Blue Devils started slow on defense, but rallied to outscore Boston College 9-4 in the second half to earn their first victory against a ranked team this season. Duke now isn’t by any means a lock to make the field of 26, but it certainly gave itself a good chance with just three games remaining—a road to trip to No. 18 Northwestern Saturday and home games against Presbyterian Monday and second-ranked North Carolina April 22.

Duke men’s lacrosse defense: After giving up 14 goals to Denver Feb. 18, Duke’s defense was vulnerable, at best.

But since then, the Blue Devils have rebounded to give up just 7.4 goals per game en route to winning seven of eight contests. A young defensive group with just one senior starter has blossomed in front of head coach John Danowski’s eyes, leading Duke to another impressive win Sunday, an 11-8 victory against then-No. 4 Notre Dame.

The Blue Devils held the Fighting Irish to just five goals in the first three quarters, including just two in the second and third periods combined, to cruise to their commanding victory.

“[The defensive development] is a culmination of a couple of new people.... You’ve got a couple of freshmen, a transfer, a sophomore, who are terrific athletes,” Danowski said after the game. “And then you’ve got guys with experience.... It’s this combination of these older guys who’ve played a lot for us and the younger athletic guys. It’s growing.”

Ryan Day: A junior, Day had been a lights-out reliever in his first two years in Durham, but little was known about his ability to start games.

As Duke’s weekend starter, Day has left no questions about that, leading the staff with a 2.11 ERA in seven starts. With Mitch Stallings and Adam Laskey struggling at the front end of the rotation for the Blue Devils, the Phelan, Calif., native has provided the team with some much-needed stability on the hill.

A sinker-baller, Day induced 13 ground balls against Miami Monday en route to a nearly perfect seven-inning line, facing just two more batters than the minimum in a scoreless outing.

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Duke bullpen: While Day has shone in the rotation, the bullpen has suffered without him this season. Stallings and his relievers squandered a 7-0 lead with just nine outs left in the game against Miami Saturday, with junior Jack Labosky giving up a walk-off three-run home run to Johnny Ruiz to fall 9-7.

The relief corps nearly squandered Day’s sparkling outing Sunday, with Nick Hendrix giving up two runs in the eighth inning to send the game into extra innings. Duke’s offense bailed out the graduate student by scoring three runs in the tenth to walk away from Coral Gables, Fla., with a victory in hand, but bullpen consistency remains an issue going forward.

"It's been a concern, it's not a secret," Pollard said. "We just have to continue to work to get better and work on different options to try and find the right formula down there. Consistency has been the issue. We've had a ton of guys that have thrown the ball really well, it's just a matter of getting consistent outings."


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