COLUMBIA — The ball just grazes her fingertips before it sails towards the basket from behind the 3-point arc.
It’s a typical sight for the Missouri women’s basketball team, and it is often followed by the familiar announcement “Three-pointer — Morgan Eye!” blaring through Mizzou Arena.
In Missouri’s game against Auburn on Sunday at Mizzou Arena, the phrase was heard 11 times as Eye surpassed the school record of 8 3-ponters scored in a game, which she had set earlier in the season. Eye also broke the Southeastern Conference record for most 3-pointers scored in a league game and totaled a career-high 33 points, leading Missouri to a 82-76 victory.
"Thirty was just a flat-out shooter," Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "She could have shot them with her eyes closed."
Missouri began the game slowly, with Auburn’s defense forcing two turnovers and racing out to a 6-0 lead. Five minutes in, Eye began narrowing the gap with her first 3-pointer of the game to make the score 13-8.
With four minutes left in the first half, Eye earned the Tigers their first lead with a 3-pointer, making the score 28-26. Auburn answered with two points, but Doty followed the play with a driving layup. Auburn answered again, tying the score one last time.
After Maddie Stock's 3-pointer gave Missouri a 33-30 edge on the following possession, the nation's leading 3-point shooters never lost it. Doty nailed a 3-point shot as the buzzer sounded halftime, giving Missouri a 39-32 lead. The team had made 10 of its 22 3-point shots before entering the locker room. Eye had four, Stock had three, and Doty had two.
But Eye was just getting warmed up.
"They run a very good offense. They keep you spread, and they shoot it quick," Williams-Flournoy said. "One step late and it’s a three."
Auburn forced 22 turnovers and had 17 assists, but the team's inability to defend the 3-point line ultimately earned Missouri a win.
"The way they defend — it's going to open up a lot of looks for you," coach Robin Pingeton said. "We certainly took advantage of that."
After studying game tape, Pingeton said the team went into the game with the goal of breaking their pressure. The Tigers succeeded, totaling 36 3-point shots.
"My teammates kept looking for me and kept hitting me," Eye said. "I think our girls do a good job at penetrating the paint. They draw attention, and I just sneak in."
As a point guard, Doty said she drives towards the basket to collapse outside coverage.
"On the offensive end, we have a lot of weapons. If they think they can guard one person, that’s just not how it is," Doty said. "So if they want to leave me open, sure, I’ll shoot it."
The team improved its record to 12-4 in its 11th straight home win after road losses to Memphis and Georgia. Stock finished the game with 11 points, and Liz Smith and Doty each finished with 10. The Tigers totaled 18 3-pointers, which is the most ever by an SEC school. The previous best mark was 17 by Ole Miss.
"When you hit a three here at home, the crowd is in it, and your teammates are all fired up," Eye said. "But we need consistency on the road."
The team has six freshmen, and Pingeton said that gaining the confidence to play away games will come with time, as it has for Eye this season in her sophomore year.
"I'm really, really proud of her. I see a different maturity this year," Pingeton said. "I think part of being a young team is just the experience of playing in that tough environment."
Eye scored her 11th 3-pointer with 4 minutes left in the game. Her gaze followed the arch of her shot until it glided through the net, a familiar sight to the SEC's leading 3-point shooter.
"You can’t really explain it. You don’t think about it," Eye said. "You just let it fly, and it goes down."