South Carolina WBB exhibition game to honor Nikki McCray-Penson. 3 things to know

South Carolina women’s basketball will host an exhibition game against Rutgers on Oct. 22 in honor of the late Nikki McCray-Penson. Admission will be free to the public. The game will tip off at Colonial Life Arena at 1 p.m.

“My heart hurts every day knowing my friend and colleague won’t be able to utilize her passion,” coach Dawn Staley wrote in response to the announcement on X, formerly known as Twitter, “….so we will do it for her and keep her legacy alive! Love you Nik Nik!”

Here are three things to know about the preseason game:

Where does this matchup fall in USC’s schedule?

The game will take place on Sunday, Oct. 22 about two weeks before the Gamecocks’ first 2023-24 regular season game against Notre Dame in Paris.

Other South Carolina athletic events that day include:

  • Men’s tennis, ITA Carolina Regionals -- Oct. 20-24 in Cary, N.C.

  • Women’s soccer vs. Georgia -- Oct. 22 in Columbia, S.C.

  • Women’s volleyball vs. Auburn -- Oct. 22 in Auburn, Alabama

  • Men’s soccer vs. UCF -- Oct. 22 in Columbia, S.C.

The opponent

South Carolina will play Rutgers, two schools with strong ties to McCray-Penson.

McCray-Penson served as an assistant coach on both staffs over he course of her career. She joined Staley’s inaugural staff in 2008, and left after the Gamecocks won their first national championship in 2017. McCray-Penson was hired as an assistant coach at Rutgers in 2022.

She died on July 7 at the age of 51. When Rutgers first announced her passing, it did not share a cause of death. McCray-Penson had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013.

“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 in a release. “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.”

The game’s worthy cause

South Carolina and Rutgers will use the game to raise money for In the Middle, a non-profit organization founded by a breast cancer survivor in Columbia that provides financial assistance to women battling breast cancer and their families. The charity helps patients with medical bills and other expenses and offers a scholarship program for children of breast cancer patients.