Women’s Basketball: NU rested, ready after light week

Jimmy Mitchell

Playing four straight conference games during an 11-day period will tire out even the best basketball teams.

For the struggling Wildcats, such a schedule has sent the squad into the doldrums of what has now become an eight-game losing streak. Northwestern is winless in 2008 and remains the only team in the Big Ten without a conference victory.

In the face of such turmoil, the Cats (4-15, 0-7 Big Ten) will travel to the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., to take on the Badgers (8-9, 1-6 Big Ten) at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Wisconsin is 10th in the conference, while NU’s recent slump has solidified its position in the Big Ten basement.

But the Cats are confident their lack of a midweek game will lead to improved play heading toward the middle of the conference season.

“We’ve been resting,” junior forward Ellen Jaeschke said. “We got practice off on Monday and Tuesday. We’re working on getting our legs back and just getting back to having fun and playing together.”

A lack of consistent play has been one of the weaknesses plaguing NU. During many losses, including recent defeats to Ohio State on Jan. 13 and Michigan State on Jan. 17, close games quickly have grown out of control in a matter of minutes.

“We’re playing hard for 35 minutes of the game, but not (the whole game),” Jaeschke said. “I think we’re going to come out (Sunday) and hopefully play all 40 minutes, play hard and hopefully get a win.”

Jaeschke’s career has taken off during her first year playing for NU and coach Beth Combs. A transfer from Air Force, Jaeschke sat out the 2006-2007 season and this year’s season opener against Dayton.

But an injury that sidelined her cousin, freshman center Amy Jaeschke, forced the junior forward to become a regular presence in the Cats’ starting lineup.

Even with the Amy’s return, Ellen has remained one of NU’s most important players on the court. Over the past three contests, the cousins have averaged more than 28 combined points per game.

Jaeschke remains optimistic the Cats can turn their season around with a win Sunday.

“(Wisconsin) has only won one game in the conference,” she said. “I think (an NU victory) can happen. The conference has been so up and down, and no one has consistently won. So I think that we definitely can beat Wisconsin at their house.”

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