Murrieta Mesa girls basketball lost its opening game Wednesday in the Lady Bears Holiday Classic against Riverside Poly, 48-37.
The Rams were looking to knock off the home team in the opener of the the fourth annual 12- team tournament.
The Bears are ranked in the top 10 of the CIF Southern Sectional 1A Division.
The Rams got off to an excellent start, matching the Bears point for point in the first two quarters.
The first half ended dead even at 21 each. Coach Robert Gergins’ Mesa team played Poly tough in the third quarter. It seemed like an upset and yet another tournament victory for the Rams as the last quarter began.
It was not to be.
The Cougars tough full-court press defense overwhelmed Mesa’s offense and shut down the Rams in the fourth quarter. Riverside Poly forced key turnovers that led to easy layups and Murrieta Mesa let the game slip away. The Cougars outscored Mesa 16-8 in the final 8 minutes to win 48-37.
Jackie Pulatie led the Rams with 11 points, including an amazing three-point shot at the buzzer from beyond half court to end the first quarter. Shayd Bowers scored 10 points while Mikayla Greens had seven. The Rams' Octavia Williams score five points, while Kiersta Tanner added four.
The loss snapped a six- game winning streak for Murrieta Mesa and brings its record to 9-4 in pre-league play.
The Rams will face the Steelers from Fontana at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in round two of the tournament. Fontana is currently 2-6. The game will be played at Riverside Poly High School.
Temecula’s Chaparral High School is also competing in the tournament.