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Gamecocks-Rutgers to Play Exhibition in Honor of McCray-Penson
Women's Basketball  . 

Gamecocks-Rutgers to Play Exhibition in Honor of McCray-Penson

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley announced today that the Gamecocks will host Rutgers in an exhibition game on Sun., Oct. 22, to honor Nikki McCray-Penson, who served as an assistant coach on both staffs during her coaching career.

Through the game, the teams will raise funds for In the Middle, a non-profit organization in Columbia that provides financial assistance to women who are battling breast cancer and their families. The group, founded by a breast cancer survivor, assists with medical expenses and other bills in addition to its scholarship program for children of breast cancer patients.

“When Nikki passed, Coquese [Washington]and I knew we wanted to bring our teams together to honor her for what she meant to our sport,” Staley said. “There’s no better way to honor Nikki than to bring people together around the sport she loved and giving them an opportunity to support families going through what hers did in her battle with breast cancer.”

As a player, McCray-Penson was a two-time All-American and three-time All-SEC selection at Tennessee. After graduating in 1995, she played in the American Basketball League (ABL), earning MVP honors after leading the Columbus Quest to the 1997 ABL Championship. McCray-Penson moved to the WNBA for eight seasons across five different teams, earning All-Star status three times. On the international stage, she was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, during which she teamed with Staley.

Following the playing career that earned her a spot in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, McCray-Penson turned to coaching, serving as an assistant at Western Kentucky (2006-08) before joining Staley’s staff at South Carolina (2008-17) where she helped the Gamecocks become a national power, culminating in the 2017 National Championship. The Gamecocks’ success helped propel her into her first head coach job, leading Old Dominion (2017-20) and then Mississippi State (2020-21) before she had to step down due to health reasons. After a season away from the game, McCray-Penson was back on the sidelines with Coquese Washington and Rutgers.

The Oct. 22 exhibition game at Colonial Life Arena will be free to the public and tipoff at 1 p.m.

The SEC also announced today television assignments and tipoff times for the 2023-24 season. The Gamecocks will play two games on ABC, nine games on ESPN or ESPN2 and nine games on SEC Network.

For more information on 2023-24 women’s basketball season tickets, which start at $55, visit To put a deposit on season tickets, visit To purchase a ticket to donate to underrepresented communities in the Columbia area, visit

Continue to check and the team’s social media accounts (@GamecockWBB) for the most up-to-date information on South Carolina women’s basketball.