Allie Kubek crossed her arms and planted her legs on the court to set a screen on a George Mason defender. She then hustled into the paint, opening herself up for a pass from Brinae Alexander.

Kubek caught the ball while holding off another Patriot player and made the layup to cut Maryland’s deficit to one point.

The third-quarter bucket highlighted Kubek’s talent as a post player and embodied her impact for the Terps this season.

The redshirt junior missed the 2022-23 season, her first with Maryland women’s basketball after transferring from Towson, with a torn ACL. Minor injuries limited her in preseason practices this year.

She came off the bench to start the season. But a breakout game against Syracuse where she finished with a team-high 23 points and eight rebounds demonstrated her skillset.

“I usually just say to myself that I’m a tough person. I’m gonna bang with you, I’m gonna box you out, I’m gonna do all the dirty work,” Kubek said.

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She moved into the starting lineup in the next game against Washington State and has averaged 7.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game since.

Kubek, one of the tallest players on the team at 6-foot-2, is the only forward in the starting lineup. She gives the Terps a strong inside presence, coach Brenda Frese said.

Her strength and height will be especially important as Maryland prepares for conference play. Proven forwards such as Indiana’s Mackenzie Holmes and Nebraska’s Alexis Markowski will test Kubek and the Terps.

Frese praised Kubek’s work on the defensive end. The coach also added that other teams have to respect her shooting ability out to the three-point line, opening up the rest of the floor for the Terps.

Even after her injury, Kubek remains confident in her abilities. Two years of physical therapy strengthened her leg. That, combined with her height, led her to say nobody can “bang” like her in the post.

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When she does face taller opponents, the Terp still finds a way. When guarded by Syracuse’s Izabel Varejão, who is two inches taller than her, Kubek used her speed to outpace the defender to the basket for a layup.

Kubek averaged 14.5 points and 6.1 rebounds as a sophomore at Towson and started all but one game during her two seasons with the Tigers. When she joined the Terps, injuries and a new program changed her role.

She struggled through the first few games of this season as Maryland faced top teams South Carolina and UConn. But every game provides Kubek another opportunity to get in better shape and increase her comfort.

“I feel like every basketball player knows that there’s no better way to get into game shape than playing a game,” Kubek said.

Her return gives the Terps a key piece to contend in the paint against Big Ten opponents.