Penn senior Julie Epton could not have asked for a more perfect ending to her women's basketball career at the Palestra.
With the desperation shot of Cornell senior Breean Walas sailing left of the east rim last Saturday night, the Quakers emerged from their final home game of the 2001-02 season clutching a 69-68 victory.
"It was an incredible way to finish it," said Epton, Penn's lone senior this season. "People just came through in the end like I knew everybody could."
One of those people was Penn sophomore guard Jewel Clark, who buried the winning free throw with just four ticks left on the clock.
"We just wanted to make sure that Julie was able to leave the Palestra game floor with the best feeling that we could possibly give her," Clark said.
Epton's final night at college basketball's most historic gym began with a ceremony honoring her contributions to the Penn women's basketball program over the past four years.
Standing in the northwest corner, Epton walked with her mom, dad, stepmother and little brother to midcourt.
"It was wonderful being out there with my parents, all of them," Epton joked.
Her parents, too, were thrilled to be on the court with their daughter.
"It's very special," said Deborah Wentworth, Julie's mother. "She's struggled with injuries all four years, and I'm really proud of her for never giving up. It would've been easy to do that with the pain she's been in, but she never did.
"That's success to me, and she's had a very successful career here."
Epton began the walk composed, but later had trouble fighting back the tears.
"My mind started wandering and thinking about all the memories I've had, how wonderful it's been and how close it is to being over," Epton said.
The six-foot forward was met at midcourt by the coaching staff, which presented her with a frame featuring five action photographs of her Penn career.
Her teammates then came up and gave her a big hug.
"It's just a really special feeling when you know how much you're loved and how many people support you and will always be there for you," Epton said.
Then at game time, Epton did not disappoint, finishing the night with 12 points and nine rebounds in 31 minutes of play.
After the game, Epton took the time to meet many of the young fans in attendance.
"Seeing her sign autographs for all these young girls is really cool," said Jeff Epton, Julie's father. "Julie will savor this moment for the rest of her life."
Not to mention the rest of the moments of which she has been a part at the Palestra.Comments powered by Disqus
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