The Gophers women's basketball team was down 10 to Maryland after a difficult first quarter Sunday at Williams Arena.

It appeared the 10th-ranked Terrapins were getting ready to walk away with the game when Deja Winters warmed up.

Winters rebounded a Maryland miss, dribbled down the court, then hit a pull-up three.

After another Maryland miss and another Winters rebound, she hit a step-back three from the left break, all part of a 12-point scoring burst in less than three minutes for Winters that pulled the Gophers within three.

This story doesn't have a happy ending. Gritty much of the night, with head coach Lindsay Whalen still at home recuperating from an emergency appendectomy and with starting point guard Jasmine Powell back home in Detroit for her grandmother's funeral, the Gophers kept it close into the fourth quarter before losing.

But it reinforced what it only took a few months to learn about Winters: "When she's hot, feed her the ball,'' Gadiva Hubbard said. "Just keep feeding her the ball.''

Winters is a graduate transfer to the Gophers. Her tenure here is still only months old, and she took the long way here. A native of Cleveland, she went to Seton Hall for two years, but didn't feel the fit. She transferred to North Carolina A&T for two years – it was her three-pointer with 3 seconds left in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference final against Howard that gave A&T the 59-57 win and an NCAA tournament berth. The extra year granted by the NCAA during the pandemic offered her the opportunity to move again. This time to Minnesota.

"It's cold,'' she said. "But it's all good.''

She had been recruited by Gophers associate head coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis when Thibault-DuDonis was at Eastern Michigan. They had kept in touch. So when Winters was looking to test her game at a higher level, the Gophers beckoned.

So far, so good. Feeling at home from nearly the minute she arrived, Winters' confidence has grown. She had a season-high 20 points against Maryland. She is first on the Gophers and fifth in the Big Ten in three-point shooting percentage (.422, 38-for-90). She is second on the Gophers behind Sara Scalia (47) in made threes.

She leads the Gophers both in blocks (18) and steals (23).

"That girl is a sniper,'' Hubbard said. "She can shoot the three. I knew she was a shooter at her other schools. But here she's done that and more.''

Winters said her confidence level is way above where it was when the season started. And she credits her teammates and coaches for making her feel comfortable from the start.

"It was a long journey to get here,'' she said. "But from the beginning we were all really close. I never felt like an outsider, or felt I didn't fit in. Even early on, when I wasn't as confident as I am today. My teammates just pushed me.''

Her last four games Winters has averaged 12.3 points and shot 50%, both overall and from three, where she's hit 13 of 26. She has been particularly effective on defense, playing at the top when the Gophers play zone.

Winters got her undergraduate degree in youth development, and is working for a masters degree here. She also has her own line of hoodies and t-shirts, called "Feel the Soul.''

But she hopes to continue to play basketball – perhaps overseas – after her college career ends.

Right now she's in a rhythm. Her ability to get on a hot streak has earned her a catch phrase from Justin Gaard, the play-by-play man on the radio team. He, the team and the coaches were at a team dinner in Arizona before the Gophers game against Arizona State. Whalen asked Gaard whether he had any catch phrases. He said no, not really. Then Whalen offered a "Game of Thrones'' suggestion: Winters is coming. It stuck.

"She's made almost 40 threes,'' Gaard said. "I've been able to use it quite a bit.''