During warmups at Williams Arena on Wednesday night, whenever one of Grace Grocholski's shots didn't go in, Amaya Battle was in her ear:
The next one's going in.
This is going to be your game.
Your first shot tonight is going to fall.
Right on all three counts, in Minnesota's 74-43 nonconference win over Norfolk State.
A freshman wing, Grocholski came to the Gophers women's basketball team after one of the highest-scoring careers in Wisconsin high school basketball history. During summer workouts and during a trip to Europe, her teammates saw how good her shot was. Wednesday, after and up-and-down start to the season, it arrived.
Grocholski's first shot did go down, a three-pointer with just over 2 minutes gone in the game. By the time coach Dawn Plitzuweit sat her starters early in the fourth quarter, Grocholski had made nine of 14 shots overall, five of eight three-pointers and scored 26 points, the most by a Big Ten Conference freshman so far this season.
"I think every night my coaches and teammates have confidence in me to keep shooting the ball," Grocholski said. "Tonight before the game and yesterday in practice she kept telling me it was going to go in. Tonight would be the night. Somehow she knew."
Grocholski was not the only bright spot in a one-sided win against a team with several players back from last season's NCAA tournament entrant.
Battle, increasingly aggressive, scored 14 points with five assists and four steals. Center Sophie Hart had 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Even on a night when her shot wasn't falling, Mara Braun scored nine points, had three assists and five steals. Mallory Heyer had six points to go with her game-high 12 rebounds.
The Spartans were led by former Cooper star Kierra Wheeler, who had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Against a team forcing nearly 20 turnovers a game, the Gophers (6-1) had 11. They amassed a 22-7 edge on points off turnovers, a 13-0 edge on second-chance points. They outscored the Spartans (6-2) in every quarter.
But especially in the second. Up just three points after the first 10 minutes, the Gophers spent much of the second quarter on a run, which ended up 21-6.
The Spartans employ a full-court zone press, and an active zone in the half-court, one that forced the Gophers to adjust on the fly. They did, shooting nearly 43% and making nine of 23 threes.
"I thought our effort and intensity was really good," Plitzuweit said. "Taking care of the ball, moving the ball, attacking when it made sense. And we did a decent job defensively."
Of the Gophers' 21 second-quarter points, Grocholski had 11, including three straight three-pointers during that 12-2 run to start the second quarter that put the Gophers up 13.
Grocholski ended the game fifth on the team in scoring (8.3). She was in double figures in three of Minnesota's first six games. She was also second in rebounding and third in assists.
But she had made 32.7% of her shots overall and 10 of 42 threes.
"She has the confidence to keep shooting," Battle said. "I knew. She's a shooter, it's going to fall. It will happen. I knew tonight was going to be the night. And she did great. I'm just really proud of her."