Updated: 12:13 a.m.
PHILADELPHIA — Having been a part of the coaching staff that brought Phil Booth to Villanova, Quinnipiac coach Baker Dunleavy knows exactly what the Villanova senior is capable of.
"He's every bit as good as any player in the country and I think he'll show that this year," Dunleavy said.
Booth scored a career-best 23 points in No. 9 Villanova's 86-53 victory over Quinnipiac on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center, where a 2018 national championship banner was raised.
Booth, a senior, made three of his six attempts from beyond the arc and shot 7 for 16 overall. He added three rebounds and five assists. Booth missed most of 2016-17 with knee issues and part of last season with a hand injury. He's now averaging 20 a game through two contests.
Villanova (2-0) led by double digits from the 13:10 mark of the first half onward and led by as many as 37. The Wildcats out-rebounded Quinnipiac, 50-29, and grabbed 20 off the offensive glass, leading to 26 second chance points.
Dunleavy, who played at Villanova and was on the team's coaching staff from 2010 to 2017, told Villanova coach Jay Wright that he knew the "buzz-saw" was coming after watching the tape from Villanova's season opening win against Morgan State.
"We really wanted to come in here and build confidence by playing this game," Dunleavy said "It's hard to do that when you get jumped on early and that's what happened."
Quinnipiac made one of its first 11 attempts from the floor, allowing Villanova to build an early 18-3 lead less than 10 minutes into the game. Villanova, which shot 7 of 15 from beyond the three-point arc in the first half, got a three pointer from freshman Saddiq Bey before the first half buzzer sounded to take a 47-20 lead into halftime.
The Wildcats, at that point, had more points on three pointers than the Bobcats had total points. Villanova forced nine first half turnovers.
"Our full-court pressure really did a good job," Wright said.
Joining Booth in double figures for the Wildcats were sophomore guard Collin Gillespie, who shot 4 of 6 from deep and finished 16 points, and senior forward Eric Paschall, who scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting and added eight rebounds and three assists.
Cameron Young's 18 points paced Quinnipiac.
Dunleavy played at Villanova in the early 2000s under Wright and later joined his coaching staff in 2010. In his second season at Quinnipiac, Saturday marked the first time Dunleavy faced his former mentor.
"It's fun to see all those guys, but not under these circumstances," Dunleavy said. "This is a one time thing."
Wright said it wasn't particularly comfortable for him, too.
"It seemed like a good idea when we talked about it, but then when it comes the week before and I'm watching film of them do what we do, I said to our team, whatever play we call, they know everything we do," Wright said. "It's going to be tough to run specific plays. I didn't particularly enjoy it, really."
Quinnipiac: In their season debut, the Bobcats got behind early and couldn't recover against their elite opponent. A less daunting stretch of nonconference games awaits.
Villanova: In a warmup before playing No. 19 Michigan at their newly renovated on-campus stadium, the Wildcats showed off their deep but relatively young rotation for the second consecutive game.
"We weren't thinking about Wednesday coming into this game," Booth said. "We were thinking about Quinnipiac. That was our main focus. Now it's time to get ready for Michigan."
Quinnipiac: Hosts Hartford on Thursday night.
Villanova: Hosts No. 19 Michigan on Wednesday night.