Warriors take exhibition opener from Minn.

Winona State stunned the Gophers behind hot shooting.

Warriors take exhibition opener from Minn.

Aleutian Calabay

The exhibition schedule can serve a number of different purposes. In the Gophers womenâÄôs basketball teamâÄôs case, it serves as a wake-up call. Minnesota may have been expecting an easy win, but instead fell in the opener to Winona State 64-62 on a last second field goal by Warriors junior forward Natalie Gigler. The loss was a combination of several things, but it basically boiled down to the GopherâÄôs ice cold shooting and Winona State raining down a parade of 3-pointers that continually left the Gophers playing on their heels. âÄúYou got to give Winona a lot of credit for tonight. I thought they did a great job executing as a team and out-played and out-worked us,âÄù Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said. âÄúThis was probably the best thing that could have happened to us at this point in the season, showing us that we have to win as a basketball team, and we have to be ready to play any game no matter who weâÄôre playing.âÄù Perhaps the biggest thing the Gophers can be happy about is that the game doesnâÄôt count, and it gives them a chance to iron out their issues before the games begin to matter. One of the aspects in which Minnesota played well went hand in hand with one of its biggest problems. The team grabbed 21 offensive rebounds, but managed only 12 points off of them. The Warriors, on the other hand, took full advantage of almost every opportunity they had, especially from beyond the 3-point line, hitting 12 of 25 from beyond the arc, counting for nearly half of their total points. Leading the way for Winona State was senior guard Ana Wurtz , who had a game-high 20 points, including 6-12 from 3-point land. The Gophers failure to apply defensive pressure allowed the hot-shooting Warriors to hit .500 of their field goals. On the other end, Minnesota only shot .365 from the field. Clearly there is some rust that needs to be shaken off before the Gophers move into the regular season. âÄúItâÄôs a good thing that this was an exhibition game,âÄù Minnesota senior captain Brittany McCoy said. âÄúWeâÄôre going to take a lot of lessons away from this game,âÄù Despite the loss, the Gophers have several positive things they can take away from the game. Sophomore guard Kiara Buford, who saw her first starting action in place of the departed Emily Fox , led the team with 18 points on 7-11 shooting, including 4-4 on 3-point shots. The Gophers also got 11 points from senior Ashley Ellis-Milan who also collected six boards. Minnesota as a team outrebounded Winona State 41-29 in the loss. On an individual basis, the Gophers played a solid game; they just never managed to get fully in sync as a team the entire night. âÄúI donâÄôt think we were playing with enough energy, and I just donâÄôt think our chemistry was very good on either end,âÄù Borton said. âÄúWeâÄôre trying to get a lot of kids in because it was an exhibition game, so we had some different combinations of kids that hadnâÄôt practiced together. I think they have to get a little more comfortable playing with each other.âÄù