Booth, Terps beaten, but not KO'd

March 26, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

DALLAS -- As he approached Michigan center Juwan Howard after the final buzzer, Keith Booth stopped in his tracks and assumed a boxer's stance. In a moment Maryland's freshman forward was smiling, reaching out to embrace Howard after banging against him and his Michigan teammates all night.

There was no time for sulking, not even in light of Maryland's 78-71 loss to Michigan last night that knocked the Terrapins out of the NCAA tournament. Booth knew he had put out his all, scoring a team-high 17 points in 29 minutes before fouling out.

"We've been playing in the ACC against teams like Carolina and Duke, so we knew what it would be like," Booth said. "We held our own, basically. I think they just wore us down with their experience."

Booth has big-game experience, especially after a career at Dunbar High School, where he won a mythical national championship. When the rest of the Maryland starters struggled in the first half, Booth carried the team. He scored 10 in the first half, the only Terp to reach double figures. It helped Maryland stay close, 39-32, at the half.

"We didn't get the ball to Joe much. They were double-teaming him," Booth said. "Joe kicked it back out, and I was able to take it to the hole strong."

Those strong moves helped Booth draw fouls, but he struggled at the foul line all evening. He was 2-for-8 there in the first half, 3-for-11 for the game. He had hit just 60.9 percent going into last night.

"There are going to be games like that," Booth said, shrugging his shoulders. "In order to win games, especially against a good team like Michigan, you have to execute -- especially free throws."

Booth hit seven of 11 shots from the field for the game and helped spark the comeback.

"We played hard in the second half, and we came back," Booth said. "Now we just have to learn from this game. Everybody's coming back next year, but there's no promise that we'll get this far. It's a matter of us working hard."

With that, Booth prepared to join his Maryland teammates for the bus ride back to the team's hotel. But before he left, he reflected on his first NCAA appearance.

"It was great playing in the NCAA tournament," Booth said. "Not too many guys get the chance to play in the NCAA tournament in their career. Being this is my freshman year, hopefully I'll get a chance to go three more years."

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