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The Penn women's basketball team hopes to improve its 0-23 record all time against Big 5 rival St. Joseph's, which visits the Palestra tomorrow afternoon. Talk to a player on any Penn team and she'll probably tell you that the Ivy League games are the most important contests of the season. That statement holds true for members of the Penn women's basketball team, who despite a 1-5 record and a two-game losing streak, believe that they will be ready for the Ivy season when they face Princeton at home on January 4. But first, the Quakers have three games to improve their play, starting Saturday against St. Joseph's (4-4) at the Palestra at 1 p.m. "We're making progress," Penn coach Julie Soriero said. "When I look back and see how we were playing at this time last year and see how we are playing this year, I am very encouraged." Soriero should be pleased. Last season the Quakers were 2-6 by the middle of December, with losses to St. Joseph's, La Salle and Villanova by 46, 49 and 44 points, respectively. This year Penn was only defeated by 10 and seven points, respectively, in the Villanova and La Salle contests. "Against Temple [an 81-75 loss] we played great for 32 minutes, but we now know that that's not going to be enough," Soriero said. "We also had a good second half versus LaSalle, but we have to play a full forty. These lessons are tough to handle when we lose, but I'd rather lose now than in January." In the game against LaSalle, the team also showed its progress as far as balanced scoring is concerned. While Mandy West still led the way with 20 points, Diana Caramanico had eight, Erin Ladley had seven and Sue Van Stone had six. While the team hopes for even more production out of those players, the even distribution is an improvement. Against St. Francis, Caramanico and West scored 45 of Penn's 60 points. "I believe we're on check for the Ivy League games," Caramanico said. "As long as we keep working hard on the little parts of our game, we'll be ready in January." Some of the smaller aspects of the game that the team is striving to improve include being more aggressive with the ball, pivoting with the ball and creating more space on the court. Regardless of the Red and Blue's hard work and improvements, they are going to have their hands full with St. Joe's. The Hawks are 2-0 in Big 5 competition after defeating Villanova 55-54 on Wednesday night. A win tomorrow would put the team in the lead for the Big Five championship. The Hawks have beaten the Quakers in their last 23 meetings. Last season, Penn turned the ball over 39 times and had three offensive rebounds to the Hawks' 20, as host St. Joe's won by 46 points. Thus, the team has to hope for a turnaround similar to its games against 'Nova and LaSalle. St. Joseph's prides itself on its tenacious defense and balanced scoring attack. "We cannot give in to their defensive pressure," Soriero said. "We cannot turn the ball over, but at the same time we have to be aggressive and not back down." As for the distribution of scoring, Penn must concentrate primarily on three players: Melissa Courey, Angela Zampella and Jana Lichnerova. Courey and Zampella play from the guard position while the 6'4" Lichnerova stands tall the post. "They have a nice combination of scorers," Soriero said. "We have to do our best to shut them down at both ends of the court." While Penn works on balancing its scoring, the Hawks have already accomplished this goal. Courey scores 12.5 points a game, Zampella adds 12.4 and Lichnerova puts in 11. Although the Quakers desperately want a win this Saturday, they can find some solace in a defeat. They know that if they keep working and improving, they will be ready when the Ivy League season kicks into high gear January 4.

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