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Rutgers to play South Carolina in exhibition to honor Nikki McCray-Penson



Photo credit Rutgers Athletics

Three months after the passing of former Rutgers assistant coach Nikki McCray-Penson, the program announced they will play an exhibition game at South Carolina to honor the basketball legend. She also served as an assistant at South Carolina for head coach Dawn Staley. The exhibition will take place on Sunday, October 22 and is free to the public. It will tipoff at 1 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina.

The exhibition will serve as a fundraiser 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.”

“Nikki had such a dynamic personality and we vowed from day one to keep her memory alive and well,” Washington said. “Dawn [Staley] and I wanted to do something for Nikki’s family, and playing a game in her honor to benefit her son, is a tribute we believe Nikki would have loved.”

“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.”

Staley and McCray-Penson were teammates on Team USA as well as coaching for her with the Gamecocks where they won a national championship together.

McCray-Penson was a basketball legend. She was a two-time SEC Player of the Year at Tennessee where she played for legendary coach Pat Summit. She was a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist as a player for Team USA. She played nine seasons in the WNBA and was a three-time All-Star. After she retired, McCray-Penson coached for almost two decades including a head coach at both Old Dominion and Mississippi State. She won a national championship as an assistant coach under Dawn Staley at South Carolina. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame among many other honors, her impact on the game is undeniable.

There were many tributes from those across the college basketball world when McCray-Penson passed away. This is a great event for Rutgers to take part. Both coaches and programs are class acts for not only honoring their late friend and colleague, but also by raising money for families suffering from breast cancer.

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