The Daily Northwestern

Women’s Basketball: While you were gone-NU notches key road wins, tough home losses

Robbie Levin

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It didn’t take long for Northwestern to surpass its win total from 2008-09. In coach Joe McKeown’s first year in Evanston, it took all season for the Wildcats to compile seven wins.This year, it took them nine games.

After losing a nailbiter to Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, NU bounced back with six straight wins, including road victories over Kansas State and Michigan. The Cats’ victory in Ann Arbor, Mich., was their first Big Ten road win since Jan. 26, 2006.

“As long as I’ve been here we haven’t been able to knock off teams on the road,” junior center Amy Jaeschke said of beating the Wolverines. “It gives us confidence, especially beating a great team like Michigan.”

While NU is undefeated in three road contests, it has struggled at home. The Cats fell to Penn State and No. 6 Ohio State by a combined 48 points. Both the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes shot lights-out in Welsh-Ryan Arena, connecting on a combined 54 percent of their field goals. In contrast, NU shot 40 percent.

“They’re not missing on our home floor,” freshman forward Kendall Hackney said. “We have to play better defense, but these teams have been coming in and shooting almost perfect games, and it’s really hard.”

The Cats should get a break when they head to Minneapolis on Thursday – the Golden Gophers are shooting a conference-low 38 percent from the field. Still, Minnesota comes into the game sporting a 9-5 record with wins over Penn State and Iowa.

“With the exception of Ohio State and Michigan State, everybody else (in the Big Ten) could beat anybody,” McKeown said. “It’s just a jumbled league right now. We’ve just got to lick our wounds and go to Minnesota.”

The play of Hackney and classmate Dannielle Diamant has been a bright spot for NU. Hackney had a breakout performance against Loyola, contributing 20 points off the bench. She cracked the starting lineup at Michigan, recording seven points and pulling down seven rebounds. For her efforts against the Ramblers and Wolverines, Hackney was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week.

Meanwhile Diamant led the Cats in their next game against the Buckeyes, scoring 20 points and knocking down four 3-pointers.

“Kendall and Dannielle have both had great years when you look at the big picture,” McKeown said. “I don’t think we’d be 11-4 without them and without (junior guard Beth) Marshall back.”

Marshall has made an immediate impact in her first full season in three years after missing the last two campaigns with injuries. Against Arkansas, Marshall was 8-of-10 from beyond the arc for a career-high 24 points. Her 26 treys rank ninth in the Big Ten.

Jaeschke is another junior putting up gaudy numbers. Averaging 17 points per game, Jaeschke has reached double figures in the last eight contests. The 2009 Second Team All-Big Ten selection has also been a presence down low, tallying 7.2 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. Against Ohio State and Penn State, Jaeschke recorded her 500th career rebound and her 200th career block,