Rutgers, South Carolina women's hoops teams to play exhibition honoring late McCray-Penson


COLUMBIA (AP) - South Carolina women's basketball will host Rutgers in an exhibition game Oct. 22 to honor the late player and coach Nikki McCray-Penson, who served as an assistant on both staffs.

Both school announced the game Wednesday. There will be no charge for those attending, although donations will be accepted for In the Middle, a non-profit organization in Columbia that provides financial assistance to women who are battling breast cancer and their families.

McCray-Penson was head coach at Mississippi State before stepping down in 2021 for health reasons and returned last season as a Rutgers assistant. She had been treated for breast cancer and died at age 51 in July.

McCray-Penson is a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. She was a two-time All-American player for Tennessee and continued her career in the ABL and the WNBA. McCray-Penson was a two-time Olympic gold medalist on teams with her good friend, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley.

McCray-Penson was head coach at Old Dominion from 2017-20 before moving to Mississippi State.

Staley said she and Rutgers coach Coquese Washington wanted to do something to honor McCray-Penson for what she meant to the game.

"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," Staley said.