SPOKANE — One of the intriguing story lines going into Saturday night’s BYU-Gonzaga game had nothing to do with basketball.
This week, Gonzaga’s administration asked students to avoid dressing up as LDS missionaries. In previous visits to The Kennel, some students wore white shirts and ties and bicycle helmets to poke fun of the Cougars, who have eight returned missionaries on their roster this year. Coach Dave Rose also served a mission.
The students at the Jesuit school got the message and obeyed. There were a few students dressed as the pope — but not missionaries.
This year, Gonzaga has a returned missionary of its own.
Freshman guard Jesse Wade, a Davis High product and 2015 Deseret News Mr. Basketball, served in the France Lyon Mission, the same one as BYU guard TJ Haws, though the two were never companions.
“I didn’t know him much before my mission. I was around him a lot when he first got to the mission,” Haws said of Wade. “He asked a lot about basketball and things like that. We talked about how to focus on what you’re doing and not worry so much about (basketball). He was a great missionary. He worked really hard, and his French was great. I think he took what he learned before his mission, hard work and basketball, and took that into the mission field. He’s a great kid, a great missionary and a great basketball player as well.”
Wade was recruited by BYU years ago.
“We saw Jesse a lot,” said Rose. “He played with (BYU guard) Zac (Seljaas) on AAU teams.”
At the time, the Cougars had several guards committed to the program, including Haws, Nick Emery and Frank Jackson.
THE SERIES: Gonzaga ended a three-game losing streak at home to BYU Saturday with its 68-60 victory.
The Zags now lead the all-time series with the Cougars, 13-6. Gonzaga’s record against BYU in Provo is 4-2 and 4-3 in Spokane and 5-1 at neutral sites.
The two teams will meet again Feb. 24 at the Marriott Center.
BENCH POINTS: Gonzaga’s reserves outscored BYU’s reserves 22-0 Saturday night. Rui Hachimura finished with 15 points and Corey Kispert chipped in seven for the Zags off the bench.