Women’s Basketball: Jaeschke dominates while healthy

Jimmy Mitchell

Freshman center Amy Jaeschke’s first season at Northwestern has had more twists and turns than a sit-and-spin theme park ride.

In NU’s first game of the 2007-08 season, Jaeschke, an all-American from Wilmette, Ill., suffered a hand injury that sidelined her for a month. Her 21-point revival on Dec. 17 propelled NU to a victory over Marquette and offered the Wildcats a glimmer of hope. But NU has yet to claim a win since that night.

As the Cats (4-18, 0-10 Big Ten) travel to Bloomington, Ind., to take on the Hoosiers (13-9, 6-4 Big Ten) Thursday, Jaeschke remains the central figure on head coach Beth Combs’s squad.

Despite NU’s current 11-game losing streak, which includes 10 straight defeats to conference opponents, the freshman has seen vast improvement on the team’s part since the Cats’ 84-53 loss to Indiana on Dec. 31.

“I think we have a good shot (against Indiana),” Jaeschke said. “We’re a totally different team than what we were a month ago. We’ve had tons of practice and overcome a lot.”

Many of NU’s difficulties this season, Jaeschke said, have stemmed from the youthful inexperience of the Cats’ roster and the players’ lack of time together. While the team’s winless streak has stretched to nearly two months, Jaeschke sees the time as valuable for the Cats’ development.

“We’re still not playing completely 40 minutes every game, but I think that we’ve played harder for longer amounts of time than we did when we played in December,” she said.

Jaeschke’s return did not transpire as smoothly as her first game back may have suggested. She struggled in her next five contest, averaging just six points.

Her season turned around on Jan. 13 against Ohio State, when she recorded a career-high 24 points. Just four days later, Jaeschke bettered that performance with a 26-point, 10-rebound double-double against Michigan State.

Suddenly, Jaeschke was a dominant figure in the middle of the court for the Cats.

“My first couple games back I was inconsistent,” she said. “I’m maybe not as consistent as I want to be, but I’ve definitely improved in that area. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue that trend.”

Jaeschke’s sudden resurgence has motivated opponents to double-team her in hopes of reigning in NU’s biggest offensive threat. Purdue kept two players on Jaeschke for most of the Feb. 3 contest, but Jaeschke was still able to record 12 points and grab 10 rebounds.

“We’ve practiced a lot on what to do against a double-team,” she said. “It’s really being able to reverse pivot and kick the ball out to your guards, and have them handle the ball from there.”

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