The fifth Lady Razorback basketball player inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor, Christy Smith Flowers lives forever in the memories of women’s basketball fans for her heroic leadership of the 1998 NCAA Final Four team.
A point guard’s point guard, Smith exemplified the toughness and leadership expected on the court from her first days at Arkansas. Playing every minute of every SEC game as a freshman — an astounding 445 consecutive minutes played — Smith was voted the SEC Freshman of the Year and paced Arkansas into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the SWC glory days.
While her personal achievements caught the attention of the nation, it was her ability to rally — both personally and through the team — that endears her to Arkansas fans to this day.
She became the first Lady’Back to lead the nation in a NCAA statistical category by shooting 89.9% at the free throw line as a freshman. Yet, one of her 15 missed free throws that season cost Arkansas a chance to advance to overtime versus Ole Miss. That loss put Arkansas at 1-3 for SEC games, but Smith would not be denied and led Arkansas on a 6-1 finish to give the Lady’Backs their best SEC finish in school history, 7-4, tied for fourth overall.
As a sophomore, Smith had the best single free throw shooting game in Division I for the 1995-96 season, a 15-of-15 effort to defeat Ohio State in the preseason WNIT. Arkansas roared to a program- best start of 13-1, but the team faltered when Smith tore her ACL at Kentucky midway through conference play. Without Smith, the team accepted a NWIT berth.
Upon her return, Arkansas opened 12-1 including Smith leading the Lady’Backs’ first-ever win over Tennessee, but a tough close made Arkansas the bubble team left out of the NCAA Tournament.
In her final season, Smith rallied Arkansas again into a NCAA bid, but with a ninth seed and the unenviable assignment to the Stanford-hosted subregional it appeared Smith would end her career short of her dream. But two flawless games from the West Lafayette, Ind., guard — zero turnovers — put Arkansas into the West Regional at Oakland. Defeating Kansas in the Sweet 16, but struggling from behind against eight-ranked Duke, Smith fulfilled her destiny appropriately at the free throw line. In the waining seconds, Duke fouled Smith twice and she calmly sank all four to send Arkansas to the Final Four in Kansas City. It remains to this day the only time an unranked team reached the Final Four.
Smith closed her career second all-time in assists and fifth in scoring. Only 31 assists shy of her coach, Amber Nicholas’, record, she certaily would have closed No. 1 in assists wthout her knee injury. She remains the highest scoring point guard in school history.
She is married to former Razorback defensive back Jeremy Flowers. The Flowers have two children, and live in the metro Dallas area.