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Sunday’s Old Dominion/UVA women’s hoops matchup is as good as gold

1998 USA Basketball Women’s Senior National Team featuring Nikki McCray and Tina Thompson (Courtesy: USA Basketball)

NORFOLK, Va. – Together, they helped our country win a gold medal. Sunday, they’ll go against each other in search of state supremacy.

Nikki McCray of the United States holds up the American flag after winning the Gold Medal Game. (Photo by: Darren McNamara/Getty Images)

Old Dominion University head women’s basketball coach Nikki McCray-Penson and Virginia head women’s basketball coach Tina Thompson were USA Basketball teammates on the national team that won a gold medal at the 1998 FIBA Women’s World Championship. In addition to that ’98 world title, McCray won a pair of Olympic gold medals (1996, 2000). Thompson followed-up her gold in ’98 with Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008.

McCray-Penson is in her second season at the helm of the Lady Monarchs – her first head coaching job. Thompson is in her first season as UVA’s bench boss – her first head coaching job.

The two women’s basketball stars have combined for 11 WNBA All-Star appearances (eight for Thompson, three for McCray) and each is a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

USA’s Tina Thompson vies for the ball during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. (Photo courtesy TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

“I’ve known Tina for a long time,” McCray told Harry Minium of ODUSports.com. “We’ve battled a lot. And we were teammates. She’s a proven winner. I have so much respect for her and what she stands for. I want to see her do well at U.Va. and she will. She’ll build great program there. But she’s coming here to battle and we will battle U.Va.” 

McCray-Penson’s Monarchs are off to a 3-and-0 start this season after an 8-and-23 record last year. Meanwhile, Thompson’s team has yet to win a game (0-and-2).

ODU and UVA tip-off at 2:00 p.m. Sunday at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk.