Francis Marion basketball great Pearl Moore to be inducted into 2021 Naismith Hall of Fame class

Pee Dee


FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) – Former Francis Marion University women’s basketball great Pearl Moore will be inducted into the 2021 class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, her sister-in-law Pat Gibson Hye Moore told WBTW Sunday afternoon.

Moore, a member of the Florence City Council, said the induction was announced Sunday afternoon on ESPN. The Hall of Fame in located in Springfield, Mass., will conduct induction ceremonies Sept. 9-11.

FMS Athletics said in a news release posted on its website that Moore was voted in by the Women’s Veterans Committee. The Florence will be the second inductee with ties to Francis Marion – joining her former coach Sylvia Hatchell – and only the third native South Carolinian to earn induction, joining Columbia’s Alex English and Charleston’s Katrina McClain.

“I am terribly humbled by this honor,” Moore said after learning of her induction earlier this week, the release said. “Who could have dreamt that playing hoops in the yard with my brothers and sisters could lead to me being recognized with the who’s who of the game of basketball.  I am so excited to join my coach (Sylvia Hatchell) in the Naismith Hall of Fame and equally proud to represent my school and hometown by receiving this honor.  A myriad of people along the way are responsible for my induction, including family, friends, teachers, coaches, and teammates.  Basketball is a team sport and I truly share this award with all of them.”

Moore, a 5-foot-7 guard-forward, played for Francis Marion between 1976 and 1979 and earned a B.S. degree in sociology in 1979.  She is a graduate of Wilson High School.

According to the release, the four-time All-American scored 4,061 points during her career, an all-time record for women’s college basketball.  She was named the 1979 American Women’s Sports Foundation Small College Player of the Year, was a finalist for the 1978 Wade Trophy and was selected the 1978-79 South Carolina Amateur Athlete of the Year.

Moore averaged 30.6 points per game over her four seasons at Francis Marion, and helped lead coach Hatchell’s program to an 85-42 record and three national tournament appearances.  She scored below 20 points only 18 times in her 127-game Francis Marion career, and reached the 50-point mark on three occasions.  She scored 1,109 points in her junior year alone.

In addition to her point total, the school said Moore grabbed 1,270 rebounds and shot 45.9 percent from the field and a then school-record 70.0 percent from the free-throw line. During her junior year, she scored a then single-game record 60 points in a 114-71 victory over Eastern Washington State College in the 1978 AIAW Small College National Tournament.

In her final collegiate game, March 10, 1979, in an AIAW Small College Regional Tournament consolation game against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, she scored 42 points to break the previous all-time record of 4,045 set by Travis Grant of Kentucky State University.  She held both the men’s and women’s career records for seven years until a pair of male players from David Lipscomb University would surpass her total.

Following her career at Francis Marion, Moore played two seasons in the Women’s Pro Basketball League – 1979-80 with the New York Stars and 1980-81 with the St. Louis Streak, earning All-Star status in 1981 – and one season in Venezuela.

Moore, who lives in Florence, has participated in numerous FMU Alumni Games and has conducted a summer basketball camp for area youth.  In 2018, the city of Florence named its new recreation center in her honor.

Moore was previously enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, the Florence Area Athletic Hall of Fame, and FMU Athletic Hall of Fame. 

Moore started her collegiate career at Anderson Junior College in the fall of 1975.  After one semester at Anderson (eight games and 177 points), she transferred to Francis Marion.  Fortunately, the Patriots did not open their cage season until after the first of the year, and thus Moore played the entire 1975-76 Francis Marion schedule. At that time under Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) rules, a player could transfer and be eligible immediately. Her career point total includes the points scored at Anderson, because at that time in women’s basketball, two- and four-year schools regularly competed against each other and all results counted.

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