FLORENCE – Pearl Moore, women’s basketball’s all-time scoring leader, is a 1979 Francis Marion University graduate. Moore, a native of Florence and a graduate of Wilson High School, played for the Patriots between 1975 and 1979, and the four-time All-American scored 4,061 career points.
On the weekend of Sept. 10-11, 2021, Moore was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., as part of the Class of 2021. She became the second inductee with ties to Francis Marion (joining former Patriot head coach Sylvia Hatchell, class of 2013) and only the third South Carolinian to join the most prestigious basketball 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. The 5-7 guard-forward went on to score 3,884 points in a Patriot uniform. 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.
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 (see lower left photo). In her final collegiate game, March 10, 1979, an AIAW Small College Regional Tournament consolation game against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, she tallied 42 points to break the previous all-time record of 4,045 set by Travis Grant of Kentucky State University.
Moore averaged 30.6 points per game over her four seasons (127 games) at Francis Marion, and helped lead head coach Sylvia Rhyne Hatchell’s program to an 85-42 record and three national tournament appearances. She scored below 20 points only 18 times in her 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, recorded in an era that did not have the three-point field goal, 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.
Since that time, two male players (John Pierce and Philip Hutcheson, both of David Lipscomb University) have surpassed her total, but she still stands as the only female player to reach 4,000 career points. Miriam Walker-Samuels of Claflin College (SC) is second on the women’s scoring list with 3,855 points.
Following her career at Francis Marion, Pearl went on to play 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 was one of the first inductees into the FMU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. In 1994, she was nominated by the university for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and her name remains in the nomination process. During the summer of 1996, several items from Pearl’s playing days were sent to the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., for inclusion in the Women’s Basketball Exhibit Area. In 2000, she was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, and in 2008 became a member of the Florence Area Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2011, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn. In February 2018, she was again recognized by the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the “WBL Trailblazers of the Game” display.
For several years, she conducted a summer basketball camp for inner city youth in the Florence area. In April 2018, she was honored by the City of Florence (S.C.) as her name now adorns the city’s new Pearl Moore Basketball Center – the first building in Florence to be named for a female.
College Basketball’s Career Scoring List (9-1-2020)
1. John Pierce (David Lipscomb Univ. TN) 1990-94 4,230
2. Philip Hutcheson (David Lipscomb Univ. TN) 1986-90 4,106
3. Pearl Moore (Francis Marion College SC) 1975-79 4,061
4. Travis Grant (Kentucky State University) 1969-72 4,045
5. Miriam Walker-Samuels (Claflin College SC) 1987-90 3,855
6. Deb Remmerde (Northwestern IA) 2004-08 3,854
6. Bob Hopkins (Grambling State University) 1953-56 3,759
7. Archie Talley (Salem College WV) 1973-76 3,720
8. Steve Platt (Huntington College IN) 1971-74 3,700
9. Pete Maravich (Louisiana State University) 1967-70 3,667
Joe Miller (Alderson-Broaddus College WV) 1954-57 3,667
11. Lynette Woodard (University of Kansas) 1978-81 3,649
Courtesy – Francis Marion Athletics