ith the Big Ten opener looming, the Gophers continue to struggle to find offensive consistency.
The latest: Wednesday's 63-59 loss to Wake Forest in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Williams Arena, one iced by Jewel Spear's step-back three-pointer with four seconds left that broke a 59-all tie.
With the exception of Mara Braun, it was a difficult offensive night.
Braun scored 27 points, including 13 in a fourth-quarter comeback that came up short. She was 9-for-18 overall, 5-for-11 on threes and 4-4 on free throws.
The rest of the team: A combined 14-for-44 (31.8%), 2-for-9 on threes (22.2) and 2-for-8 on free throws.
Add 19 turnovers and you have a close loss to a Wake Forest team that won just four ACC games last season.
"We really just couldn't get a rhythm and stay consistent with it,'' said Braun, who hit three three-pointers and scored 11 points in a 14-5 run that took the Gophers from down 10 early in the fourth quarter to within a point with 2:31 left. "We really have to work on our motion and moving. We were stagnant most of the second half.''
Those scoring woes started early, when Minnesota (4-3) managed five points in the first quarter, shooting 2-for-11 with seven turnovers. Coach Lindsay Whalen gave Amaya Battle her first start, hoping her length would help slow Spear.
Spear (19 points) had just four points in the first half. But, with the Gophers up seven early in the third, the Demon Deacons (5-3) went under a couple screens and Spears hit a couple threes in a quick 8-0 run and that lead was gone.
Minnesota struggled to find a flow all night against a physical Wake Forest team that worked hard to impede movement.
"It's something we have to watch on film and see how we can be better," Whalen said. "It will be top of mind, for sure. We work on that every day. Now the next step is carrying it over when a team is really physical, like teams in the ACC are. Like teams in the Big Ten are.
"That's the next step for our team, to keep moving, keep cutting when you're getting bumped, getting hit. That is something we have to learn."
Up seven early in the third, the Gophers were outscored 24-9 the rest of the quarter, falling behind by eight. The Demon Deacons were up 10 when Braun started hitting shots.
The Gophers were down two after a stop when Rose Micheaux (13 points, 10 rebounds) got a rebound on one of Braun's misses, scored and was fouled with 16 seconds left. But she missed the free throw.
"I really tried to lock in and just focus on the basket and the ball that was in my hands,'' she said. "But I missed, and you can't go back.''
Out of a timeout Spear, guarded by Bruan, got a little space from a pick, then hit the step-back three.
Next up: Saturday's Big Ten opener vs. Penn State.
"We have to go back, look at the film, pick up a few things to work on and really work super hard on them in practice,'' Braun said.
"We'll come out on our home court and redeem ourselves and show 'em what we're expected to do in this Big Ten.''