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7. The Lady Rifle women's basketball team wins a school-record 34 straight regular-season games at the Hodge.

At 23 years old, Peggy Sells had something special at the Hodge Center. In three seasons as head coach, Sells won all but four games in the gym.

With a fiery personality, the young coach was determined to turn the Lady Rifles into an elite program in Division II. The team had experienced success before, winning 35 games from 1989-91 before stumbling to a 12-16 record in 1991-92.

"I'm a very intense person," Sells said to the Herald-Journal. "I like to compete no matter what it is. I tell the team if it's sweeping the gym floor, then I want to sweep it faster and better than anybody out there."

Sells, coming on board in 1992-93, took the team for a magical ride, leading USCS to an undefeated Peach Belt regular season, the first and still only the fifth perfect season in conference history.

While Jerry Waters' crew saw its five-year long in the Hodge come to an end in February, Sells' crew had reached 12 straight wins on the home floor by the end of the season. Although, they finally lost in the Regional Finals to Norfolk State at the Hodge, the regular-season streak stood in place.

In 1993-94, behind the play of Fourth-Team All-American Valerie Scott and Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, the Rifles ran to another conference title with a 15-1 record. At the Hodge, the Rifles, who started two freshmen in Sisson and Heather Abrams, let a team come within 10 points just once, a 71-65 win over Augusta State on Feb, 23. The team finished the regular season a perfect 14-0 at the Hodge extending its streak to 26 regular-season games.

The Rifles even posted an 83-60 win over Wofford in an NCAA Tournament Play-In Game on March 9, 1994, spoiling the Terriers first Division II Tournament bid. Sisson scored 22 points and Scott added 18 to team up for the win.

"She's the kind of person that wants to take control and isn't afraid to step up," Paula Blackwell, the school's all-time leading 3-point shooter, said of Sisson. "She's a leader on the court and off and sometimes I forget she's a freshman with her decision-making."

The next season, Rifles certainly weren't sneaking up on anyone and by January, the team had climbed to 19th in the national rankings and the win streak at the Hodge had reached 32 straight games when Columbus State came to the gym on Jan. 14.

With 11 seconds left, Barbara Hester was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and she hit all three free throws for the Cougars, sending the game into overtime. However, Sherry Clark hit a layup to give USCS a lead in overtime that they never gave back, hanging on for the 77-75 win.

The streak could not last much longer, though, and after the 34th straight win, an 82-56 triumph over Francis Marion on Jan. 16, the Rifles fell to Augusta State, 60-59, on Jan. 18, as the Jaguars overcame a five-point first-half deficit to win the game.

Despite the end of the streak, the Rifles went on to win their third straight Peach Belt regular season title and their second straight tournament championship, advancing once again to the Division II Sweet Sixteen. Both Sisson and Abrams were All-Peach Belt selections.

At the end of the season, Sells, at age 25, left USC Spartanburg as its all-time leader in wins with 80, heading to Virginia Commonwealth University. It was 11 years before USC Upstate returned to the NCAA Division II Tournament.

USC Upstate Women's Basketball
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