Maryland, riding a six-game women's basketball winning streak, faces its most crucial encounter of the year Friday in taking on undefeated Cheyney State in an Eastern Association for Intecollegiate Athletics for Women playoff at Towson State.

Bowie State, sole survivor of four area schools in the past weekend's EAIAW small-college satellite tournaments, is also traveling down Sudden Death Boulevard. The Bulldogs will meet Morgan State Friday in an Eastern regional semifinal in Johnstown, Pa.

The sixty-ranked Terrapins must beat Cheyney to have a shot at reaching the AIAW final game for the second straight year. The winne between the two is guaranteed a spot in one of four ALAW regionals, regardless of the outcome of Saturday's final against the winner of the Penn State-Rutgers match.

That is because of the strength of the region, designated 1-B (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and District of Columbia).

With Rugers ranked No. 6 nationally and Penn State 11th, four of the top 11 teams are clustered in one of 10 AIAW regional tournaments. The winner of the 1-B championship game thus earns a trip to the Eastern Regional in New York City, the loser goes to the Southern Regional at Tennessee Tech.

Maryland probably must play its most consistent game of a rollercoaster season if it is possibly to succeed where 24 opponents out of 24 failed against regionl top seed Cheyney.

The Wolves, ranked fifth nationally, own victories over Rutgers and ninth-ranked North Carolina State. Rutgers handed Maryland a nine-point setback at Cole Field House last month; Penn State followed with a 21-point victory at home over the Terps. Those two defeats dropped Maryland's seeding position to fourth in Region 1-B.

Cheyney earned the trip to Towson by making up a one-point halftime deficit and cruising past Pittsburgh, 62-46, Saturday night in Newark, Del.

Maryland typified a great part of its season Friday night as the Terps blew a 10-point lead in the second half before regrouping to win by two over Montclair State in the regional qualifier

A bright spot for the Terps (20-5) has been the play of reserves Pam Reaves and Myra Waters. Reaves, a sophomore, scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds against Montclair in 24 minutes. Freshman Waters hit double-figure scoring in two of Maryland's last four games.

Bowie State (16-3) rode the one-two scoring punch of Barbara Jones and Annette Rolle to victories over La Salle and Immaculata in the small-college satellite tournament. The Bulldogs, seeded third in the East, got 51 points from Jones and 44 from Rolle in two games to gain a date with No. 2 seed Morgan.

Seton Hall (22-6), seeded first, and Slippery Rock complete the Johns-town field.