The way it happened should have seemed familiar.
Sunday at Williams Arena the Gophers struggled on both ends of the court for most of the game, but they were leading by a point at halftime against a Penn State team looking for its first Big Ten victory.
But, in a repeat of what happened in Iowa last week, the third quarter proved disastrous in a 69-60 loss to the Lady Lions.
"We're up one, we're feeling pretty good," Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. "And we have some looks that don't go, some costly turnovers. At the other end, breakdown after breakdown. The third quarter is killing us."
It is. But in a game in which the Gophers shot just 31.3%, were outrebounded 37-31, were put on their heels by Penn State's 2-2-1 press and weren't able to solve the Lady Lions' 2-3 zone, the Gophers (2-6, 1-5 Big Ten) never appeared in a rhythm.
But the third quarter was, for the second game in a row, the killer. The Gophers opened it going 2-for-7 with three turnovers on offense while allowing the Lions to penetrate for layups or get open looks from behind the three-point line.
The result: six-plus minutes into the third, after Maddie Burke had hit a second-chance three-pointer, the Lions had a 10-point lead and were never really threatened again.
"It's a lot of positives and negatives when we go in at halftime," said Jasmine Powell, who scored a game-high 19 points, led the Gophers in rebounds (six) and had four assists. "You're trying to find out what's working and what isn't. You're trying to come out with the same intensity. We haven't gotten there yet."
The Gophers had a 10-point halftime lead in Iowa Wednesday before being outscored 30-13 in the third quarter.
"It's so many things," said Gadiva Hubbard, who scored eight points, making just three of 12 shots and one of 10 three-pointers.
Penn State jammed up the middle — making things difficult for Kadi Sissoko — and the Gophers weren't able to pull them out, making just five of 28 three-pointers. Sissoko fouled out with two points.
"We need to execute better on offense," Hubbard said. "We didn't follow our game plan the way should have. The details matter, and we were exposed."
Penn State (4-5, 1-4) was led by Kelly Jekot (15 points), Johnasia Cash (14) and Burke (13).
The Gophers played without Sara Scalia, who has an injured right shoulder and was a late scratch. As a result, Roseau's Katie Borowicz made her debut, scoring two points.
Laura Bagwell-Katalinich had 12 points, the only other Gophers player in double figures.
"We have to become a team that comes out after halftime with some semblance of being ready to work, ready to play," Whalen said.
The Gophers' attempt to rally in the fourth quarter was short-circuited by fouls; the Gophers committed three on one Penn State possession and the Lions were in the bonus early, getting to the line 12 times.
"We just all around, top to bottom, have to be better," Whalen said.