And the Nittany Lions did so in the literal and figurative senses of the word, eclipsing their previous season high for caroms by a dozen by posting 52 in the 58-42 victory over the Retrievers.
That, along with a solid defensive showing in the second half, offset another poor shooting effort by PSU, which improved to 6-3 on the season. UMBC, which played without leading scorer Chauncey Gilliam and 7-foot center Robbie Jackson (ankle sprains), fell to 0-8.
According to Lion coach Ed DeChellis, the lesson against the outmanned Retrievers was that solid play in other areas can mitigate a bad shooting performance. State made only 4 of 21 3-pointers.
If you rebound it and defend it, you're still going to have a chance to win, he said. So even if you aren't shooting well, if you rebound and defend, you're going to be OK.
Penn State never looked like it was going to be anything other than OK in this one, even after a lackluster first half. Attendance didn't seem to be anywhere near the listed crowd of 6,296, and there was no juice in the building.
Even though the Lions were hammering the glass, they couldn't buy a long-distance bucket against UMBC's zone defense, going 1 of 11 from the arc through 20 minutes. Worse, in DeChellis' eyes, they were not defending particularly well, allowing the Retrievers to make 9 of their first 18 shots.
Afterward, he called out his senior-less team, saying, I have a real concern about our leadership. We haven't been a vocal bunch. The guys who need to be vocal haven't been vocal.
Those comments were directed squarely at fourth-year junior big men Andrew Jones and D.J. Jackson, the most veteran players in the program.
So with PSU leading 27-23 at the break, assistant coach Lewis Preston wrote the word intensity on the white board in the locker room.
That pretty much said it all, Jones said. We were playing defense, but we weren't really into guys and the intensity wasn't there.
DeChellis had two ways of giving the Lions a jolt on the defensive end. One was threatening the team with running sprints for every point it allowed over 50. The other was by unleashing rookie guard Tim Frazier on the UMBC backcourt.
It worked, as Frazier's high-intensity style dramatically increased the pace of the game. State opened the second half with a bang when Jackson missed a shot and forward Jeff Brooks slammed home the rebound with a reverse dunk. Then Frazier hit a triple to boost the lead to 32-29 and the Lions never looked back.
Brooks overcame a shaky start to score a game-high 14 for Penn State. He got plenty of help from Jones, who posted 10 points and 10 rebounds. Leading scorer Talor Battle was held to seven points, but only took eight shots in the game.
DeChellis credited him with doing a good job of keeping his teammates involved in the action, even while the Lions weren't playing well.
But that was about the only credit he was handing out Tuesday. After giving up 17 offensive rebounds to Temple a few days earlier, the coach surely realized the bounce-back effort against a winless UMBC bunch was hardly an indicator that all was well.
A truer test will come Saturday, when Virginia Tech visits the Jordan Center. The Hokies are 6-1 and averaging more than 14 offensive rebounds per game.
We'll find out what kind of rebounding team we are Saturday night, DeChellis said.
Check out the recap of our in-game chat below.