Finally, maybe, it's starting to come.

Gophers women's basketball guard Gadiva Hubbard has been here a long time. Because she lost a season to injury, taking a redshirt, and then took advantage of the extra year of eligibility the NCAA gave players during the pandemic, Hubbard has been here, in a Gophers uniform, since the fall of 2016.

And this season has been tough. Not because the emergence of Deja Winters has changed Hubbard's role, moving her from the starting lineup to the bench. That's fine.

"I am willing to do anything the team needs me to do, OK?'' Hubbard said after practice Friday.

It's that Hubbard's shot just hasn't been right. For years, after each game, Hubbard talks to her mom over the phone. And it's this situation, this shooting slump, that has dominated the conversation.

"I feel my defense is there,'' she said. "But my shot has not gone well for me this year. Honestly I don't know if it's because I don't have to score as much. We have so many offensive options to go to. Or if it's because I'm feeling my age, at 23, with the injuries I've had. But I'm trying to work my way out of this.''

It might be happening.

Wisconsin was still hanging around in the fourth quarter in Wednesday's game. The Gophers led by 12 when Hubbard found her shot. She hit consecutive threes, pushing that lead to 18. Her second-chance three late iced the game. Hubbard scored nine of the Gophers' 27 third-quarter points.

Minnesota needs this. The Gophers, coming off that road win at Wisconsin, play host to 12-3 Ohio State Saturday at Williams Arena. A victory will even their Big Ten Conference record at 3-3. The game will feature the two best three-point shooting teams in the conference.

Ohio State is first in three-point percentage (40.1) and threes made per game (9.2). The Gophers are second in both (37.7, 8.6). Ohio State guard Taylor Mikesell is shooting 48.8% on threes, best in the conference, while the Gophers' Winters (43.3, sixth) and Sara Scalia (40.5, eighth) are in the top 10.

So Hubbard is right when she says the team has options. But a resurgent Hubbard coming off the bench would be a huge boost.

"She comes in and gives us veteran experience,'' Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. "She gives us defending, three-point shooting. And she brings that knowledge.''

Hubbard said she thinks she's better coming off the bench, getting a chance to get a feel for the game and the opponent before checking in.

Hubbard is averaging a career-low 6.2 points per game, shooting 34% overall and making 38.4% of her threes. But in her last five games, she has shot 43.3% overall, 10-for-23 on threes and scored 7.8 points.

Hubbard heating up could be important for the Gophers, who haven't beaten the Buckeyes since an overtime win in February 2016, months before Hubbard arrived on campus. Hubbard said she recently watched the tape of a two-point loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament in 2018.