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Duke misses shot against Cornell

Although the Blue Devils rode a four-game winning streak into their matchup with No. 3 Cornell Wednesday, it was still clear Duke's offense is not what it used to be.

Even after matching their season-low output in a 10-6 loss, the No. 8 Blue Devils (6-3) did show they could generate good shots.

They just struggled mightily to convert, burying only 16 percent of their attempts against the Big Red (4-1).

"They weren't bad shots. We weren't taking them from bad places," senior attackman Ned Crotty said. "We were just putting them in bad spots on goal."

Duke scored two quick goals in the opening minutes of the first quarter, but the short spurt would be the only offensive bright spot all game, as the Blue Devils converted just once more all half on their 20 shots. The cold shooting would continue into the night, especially as players' frustration resulted in sloppy passing and frivolous penalties that stalled any momentum from building.

"I thought, in the second half, we lost our poise," head coach John Danowski said. "I thought we didn't play together.... Against a good team, you can't do that. You have to play for 60 minutes, and we did not do that."

Duke fired 23 of its 37 total attempts on goal, and its ability to only scrap together six tallies-two of which came late in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of reach-underscored a greater issue that has plagued this team throughout the season: finishing.

Cornell goalie Kyle Harer finished with 17 saves and was certainly instrumental in preventing the Blue Devils from establishing a rhythm and registering any of their trademark runs that had helped make them one of the fiercest offenses in the country in recent years.

But as well as Harer played, Duke was also incapable of following its own advice.

"We did not want to shoot low," Crotty said. "We'd come off the sideline and tell everybody that, but we'd go right back out and put it right back at his feet, making this kid look like he was the best goalie in the world.

"He knew every time-we wound up, he dropped his stick. It took us a couple shots to realize it, but then we did, and we still put them there. If you want to win a game, you just can't do that. And we're proof."

Duke has had issues finishing its shots all season, especially against elite teams.

In six contests against ranked opponents this year, the Blue Devils have racked up an average of 37 shots but only 9.5 goals. And it doesn't just seem to be a matter of basic accuracy, as Duke has landed a more-than-healthy 56 percent of its shots on net.

The scoring woes, again, seem to stem from a larger problem with shot placement.

"I don't think we shot the ball real well," Danowski said. "We didn't solve [Harer]. If you took 37 shots, you've got to score more than six goals.

"It's as simple as that."

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