Freshman Reed one bright spot during four-game slide (Women’s basketball)

Jimmy Mitchell

By Jimmy Mitchell

The Daily Northwestern

A four-game losing skid is one thing. Trying to break such a streak while traveling to Penn State to face the Lady Lions is quite another.

Nonetheless, Northwestern (4-11, 0-3 Big Ten) will trek to University Park, Pa., looking to emerge from the basement of the conference.

The Wildcats will face off against Penn State (11-4, 2-1) at 6 p.m. tonight at the Bryce Jordan Center. Penn State has won 25 of the previous 31 matchups between the schools.

The Cats received a definitive boost when freshman phenom Amy Jaeschke’s return propelled NU to a victory at Marquette on Dec. 17. Jaeschke had missed the previous nine games after breaking her hand during the season-opener against Dayton on Nov. 9.

But the momentum of NU’s victory over the Golden Eagles did not continue, and the Cats are still searching for its first victory in more than three weeks.

Guard Meshia Reed said the team’s recent failures stem more from a lack of consistent play than from any deficiency of talent.

“I think we lose focus towards the end (of the game) and going into the second half,” she said. “We need to pick it up more and finish the way we started.”

Reed has provided a rare bright spot for coach Beth Combs and the Cats. The freshman from Stockbridge, Ga., has come through with two career-best performances early into conference play.

In a Dec. 31 loss against Indiana, she finished with a personal-best 23 points. She followed up her strong showing against the Hoosiers with an even more impressive game at Michigan six days later, setting two career highs with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Despite the early successes, Reed admits she still has plenty of room to improve.

“I look to move forward on (limiting) my turnovers,” she said. “What I did before, I hope to be able to do better.”

Turnovers have been the bane of much of the Cats’ season. With an average of 19.2 turnovers per game (10th in the conference), NU has struggled to keep control of the ball long enough for opportunities to present themselves on offense.

NU will need to limit turning the ball over to a Penn State team with a formidable offense. The Lady Lions are averaging 67.5 points per game and have shown a firepower that the Cats, a smaller team averaging just over 54 points a game, have not.

To combat this disparity, Reed said the team’s focus on playing mistake-free basketball will be crucial to a quality showing tonight.

“We’re going into the game thinking about executing and doing the little things,” Reed said. “(Penn State is) a good team, we just need to do the little things right to run with them.”

Reach Jimmy Mitchell at [email protected]