Behind a five-point second quarter by junior Matt Danowski, the No. 2 Blue Devils (3-0) continued their recent demolition of unranked opponents with a 16-1 dismantling of Division-I newcomer Bellarmine (0-1) Tuesday.
Following a lackluster opening period, Danowski began his scoring surge 3:05 into the second quarter. Receiving a Dan Flannery pass to the left of the cage, the junior rifled a perfectly positioned shot between the crossbar and the left shoulder of Knights goalie J.C. Hutchins to give the Blue Devils a 3-0 lead.
Duke struck again 69 seconds later, as Danowski charged toward the net and collapsed the Bellarmine defense around him. He then sent a quick pass out to Zack Greer, and the wide-open sophomore fired a laser to the right side of Hutchins to give the Blue Devils a four-goal advantage.
By the halftime break, Danowski had added two more goals and another assist to his tally, helping Duke amass an 8-0 lead by intermission. The attacker finished the contest with a game-high four goals and tied Flannery for a game-high two assists.
"I got my open opportunities and shot smart," Danowski said. "We played great defense and got transition points. We played unselfishly, and luckily I was able to make some pretty good plays."
A finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy last season, Danowski entered Tuesday afternoon just fifth on the team in both scoring and points. In his team's 20-3 win over Butler Feb. 18 and 13-2 victory against Villanova Feb. 25, Danowski combined for three goals and three assists despite being presented with numerous scoring opportunities.
"Matt has a high standard for himself," Duke head coach Mike Pressler said. "He's gotten his shots but hasn't put them in the goal, so it's nice to see Matt break out a little bit."
Although the Blue Devils entered the second quarter with a 2-0 lead, the offense as a whole struggled to execute accurate shots for the majority of the game's first 15 minutes. After a quick goal by Kyle Dowd 25 seconds into the contest, Duke had trouble clearing the ball from its defensive zone, and the Knights attack outshot the Blue Devils, 8-7.
"[Bellarmine] is a very unorthodox team," Pressler said. "They play a lot of different defenses, and I think they caught us a bit off guard. I don't think we were as sharp as we should have been, but I think we picked it up from the second quarter on."
In the second quarter, however, the Blue Devils opened up their transition game and put pressure on the Knights' defense. Duke outshot Bellarmine 19-3 in the period, while the Knights finished with just 23 shots on goal in the game. In addition, Bellarmine was just 3-for-10 on clears in the quarter and won only four face-offs the entire contest.
The Blue Devils' large margin-of-victory and shot totals overshadowed what was otherwise a standout performance for goalie Dan Loftus, who made several key saves in the game's early going to preserve Duke's slim advantage.
"Danny Loftus was sharp today," Pressler said.
The junior finished the contest with five saves, and the Blue Devils held the Knights scoreless until a Garett Kikot goal ended the shutout bid with 1:05 to go in the game.
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