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Penn senior Julie Epton will be playing in her final home games this weekend as the Quakers take on Cornell and Columbia at the Palestra. [Matthew Sorber/DP File Photo]

If it wasn't clear before, let it now be known -- the Penn women's basketball team doesn't give up.

Nor does it lose its energy.

Nor does it lose its enthusiasm.

Despite coming to the realization last weekend that they will not be able to defend their 2000-2001 Ivy League title, the Quakers have redefined their goals and brought a new outlook towards the end of the season.

"It's definitely disappointing knowing that we can't win the league now," Penn junior point guard Tara Twomey said. "But there's still a lot of incentive to go out and get some big wins at the end of the season."

The fresh perspective of the players is clearly the result of strong leadership at the top.

"We felt from day one that we had the type of team that could defend the title, even though we're so different from last year," Penn coach Kelly Greenberg said. "So now what do you play for? You play for respect. You play for pride. You play for Penn as a whole, not just Penn women's basketball."

Currently, Penn (10-14, 6-5 Ivy) sits in fourth place in the Ancient Eight standings. If the Quakers win their last three games, they will guarantee themselves at least a tie for second place.

However, notching wins over the next five days will not be easy, as Penn will face three quality opponents. Tonight, the Quakers will open up the final weekend of league play with a 7 p.m. matchup against Columbia (11-13, 5-7) at the Palestra.

Tomorrow, Penn returns to college basketball's most historic gym for its final home game of the season, a duel with second-place Cornell (14-11, 8-4) at 7 p.m. Penn's lone senior, forward Julie Epton, will be honored for her contributions to the Penn women's basketball program.

"This year we've had our ups and downs, but I love everybody like family," Epton said. "I really hope we can come out this weekend and get two really big wins. It would be a great way to leave the Palestra."

Against the Lions, Penn will be looking to duplicate its valiant effort of a month ago, when the Quakers pulled out an 84-80 overtime thriller over Columbia at Levien Gymnasium.

"The Columbia game up there [on Feb. 2] really helped us," Greenberg said. "It got our season going."

Including that victory, the Quakers have won five of their last seven after opening the season 5-12.

Penn will not, however, be looking to repeat its performance from that same weekend against Cornell. In Ithaca, N.Y., the Big Red played impeccable defense, sending the Quakers home with a 77-61 loss.

"They played a 1-3-1 [zone defense] that really bothered us," Greenberg said. "We have to attack it and be aggressive."

If Penn is successful in overcoming Cornell's smothering zone and puts up strong numbers offensively, the Quakers will have a good shot at reaching their new goal.

"Once you don't reach your goal, it doesn't mean you give up," Epton said. "It's not in me to do that, and it's not in our team to do that."

Spoken like the senior leader on a team that just doesn't quit.

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