Duke unloaded on Air Force in the Devils' first round NCAA Tournament game, putting together a 20-9 win that was as complete an effort that could be expected from Duke. The Blue Devils advance to the quarterfinals to face Johns Hopkins, the next stop on Duke's pursuit of its eighth consecutive Championship Weekend appearance.
The first quarter didn't look much like the body of the game: The Devils got on the board first with an unassisted goal from Jordan Wolf just one minute in, but the Falcons answered -- just 2:26 later -- with a bucket from Kyle Cassady. Myles Jones -- who finished with three goals and five assists against the Falcons -- then gave the Blue Devils a lead that they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the way, a goal coming at the 11:01 mark of the first quarter. The game then became nip and tuck: Will Haus and Jones joined together to give Duke a two-goal lead; Erik Smith responded to the mini-push with a goal for Air Force with three minutes remaining in the first quarter to draw the Falcons within 4-2; and Josh Dionne rammed one through with one second left on the clock in the first period to give Duke a 5-2 lead at the sunrise of the second period.
After a Tommy McKee goal off of a Mike Crampton helper at the 13:36 mark of the second stanza, Duke started its serial killing spree, putting seven goals on the board through the remainder of the half, getting all of its tallies in a 6:01 stretch. The run was the epitome of Duke's dangerousness: The Blue Devils scored on seven of their next eight possessions occurring after McKee's goal, ripping off 13 shots -- none saved -- and varying the attack with six helpers on the seven tallies from six different goal scorers. Five goals in the run were from possessions earned directly from Brendan Fowler faceoff wins, a concentrated effort of laser-focused demolition that gave Duke an insurmountable 12-3 lead with 4:38 remaining in the half. Air Force, contrastingly, had only four possessions between the McKee tally and Case Matheis' goal that gave Duke a nine-goal advantage, taking three shots -- one was saved -- and committing a turnover.
It was over. That burst -- scoring more goals than minutes elapsed -- cemented the Blue Devils' trip to Delaware Stadium to rekindle relations with Johns Hopkins, a team that Duke hasn't meet since 2010 (an 18-5 win for the Devils). What was a potentially interesting first round matchup against a surging Air Force team was mauled by Duke exerting its full capacity of pain on the Falcons.
TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE
|Raw Offensive Efficiency||36.00||45.45|
|Raw Offensive Shooting Rate||25.71%||38.46%|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||1.40||1.18|
|Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||40.00||27.27|
|Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Possessions||23.19||28.99|
|Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities||27.27||36.00|
|Team Save Percentage||37.50%||50.00%|