Duke (3-2) jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two quarters of lacrosse as it tallied three goals in each period. The Blue Devils defense held Loyola to just 13 shots in the first half and sophomore goaltender Dan Wigrizer made seven saves to keep the Greyhounds scoreless after 30 minutes.
"It's awesome [when our defense plays so well] because it gives us freedom to sling the ball around and make some decisions and take some chances," Howell said. "We didn't a very good job today in terms of 6-on-6 offense. We turned the ball over a lot, but good defense will allow you do that though."
Wolf paced the Duke attack in the first quarter, notching all three goals. He finished with four scores, passing his previous career high of three. In the second quarter, sophomore David Lawson got in the mix as he put away a goal just over five minutes into the stanza off of an assist from junior CJ Costabile. Costabile finished the game with a career-high three assists to go with one goal. Rookie Christian Walsh got on the board next and Howell closed out the first-half scoring with 11 ticks left in the first half to give Duke a 6-0 lead at the break.
The Blue Devils put 12 of 17 shots on frame in the first half and dominated the ground ball game 20-11. Defensively, Duke forced 12 Loyola (3-1) turnovers during the first two quarters.
Senior Justin Turri made it a 7-0 contest 2:10 into the third quarter before Howell netted two more to give the Blue Devils a commanding 9-0 lead with 11:27 left in the third frame. Turri's goal marked the 18th straight game in which he has at least one point.
The Greyhounds ended their scoring drought 4:23 into the third quarter as Mike Sawyer netted the first of his game-high five goals on the night off an assist from Davis Butts. Sawyer dropped in a man-up goal a minute later and added his third with 2:50 left in the quarter as Duke held an 11-3 advantage after three quarters.
Loyola's offense came alive in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Blue Devils 6-3, including going on a 4-0 run late in the game. Five different Greyhounds scored a goal in the fourth stanza, but the deficit proved to be too much to overcome with Duke easing to the five-goal victory.
"We learned that we have to play 60 minutes," Howell said. "They outscored us in the fourth quarter 6-3 so now we have something to work toward. While we played well in the first three quarters if we play a team closer and they outscore us like that in the fourth quarter we lose. So it's something that we have to fix in the future."
Overall for the game, Loyola had a 34-31 advantage in shots and won 15-of-25 faceoffs. Duke won the ground ball battle, 39-27 and successfully cleared 18-of-20 attempts. Loyola finished 3-of-7 on man-up opportunities, while Duke was successful on 2-of-7 extra-man looks.
Costabile won 8-of-14 draws to go with his four points, while senior Terrence Molinari picked up a game-high six ground balls. Sophomore Bill Conners scooped up a career-best four ground balls as did senior Tom Montelli. In goal, Wigrizer finished with 13 saves, marking the third straight game with double-digit stops. Jake Hagelin made eight stops in 45 minutes of action for the Greyhounds. Jack Runkel and Michael Bonitatibus also saw time between the pipes for Loyola.
Duke returns to action on March 13, hosting Mercer at Koskinen Stadium at 1 p.m.