Turnovers & fourth quarter collapse spell defeat for Pioneers against Blue Devils

Photo: Courtesy of GoDuke.com

It was a goal with 7 seconds left that broke a tie, ended #8 Denver’s surprisingly necessary comeback attempt, and sealed a #5 Duke win. But it was excellent goaltending and untimely Pioneer turnovers that allowed Duke to get back in the contest in the fourth quarter after trailing 6-4.

On a sloppy field in Durham, N.C., DU (1-1) had 22 turnovers. That was the most miscues Denver had in the last five seasons and gave the Blue Devils opportunity after opportunity to get back into the game. And when Duke got those opportunities, especially in the fourth quarter, they found nothing but net with 10 goals on 12 shots against Alex Ready, who stopped nine of 13 shots against Air Force just a week prior. On the other hand, DU went just 9 of 18 on their shots on goal.

Duke Coach John Danowski told The Duke Chronicle that the Blue Devils were not even trying to win in the final seconds. “We were just going try to muck it up. We were going to try and draw a foul off a ground ball, maybe the foul would carry over into overtime, and the game plan wasn’t to win it in those last few seconds. The plan was just fight for the ball and see what happens, and not foul them. The ball just bounced our way.” Unfortunately, an errant Blue Devil pass ended up in Joey Manown’s stick and he buried the shot for the Duke win.

While sloppy field conditions caused problems with a total of 38 turnovers, Denver’s -6 turnover margin was too much to overcome on the road against a fellow national power.

Up next for Denver is Utah and Cleveland State at Peter Barton Stadium next weekend.