The Villanova Wildcats sit at 2-0 after a dominating 86-53 victory over the Quinnipiac Bobcats at the Wells Fargo Center. The 33 point margin reminded fans of last year’s national championship winning team, as the Cats got off to a flaming hot start. Collin Gillespie led a 26-5 run to begin the game, and the sophomore guard finished with 16 points fueled by his 4-of-6 shooting from behind the arc.
The majority of the first half was played without senior forward Eric Paschall, who sat with foul trouble after picking up two quick offensive fouls. In response, fellow senior guard Phil Booth shouldered the offensive load by scoring 15 points in the first half on the road to a career-high 23 points. Booth emerged as the clear leader tonight, as he played great defense and exemplified what Villanova Basketball means when he dove on the floor for a loose ball that led to a Jermaine Samuels fast break layup. The Wildcats finished the first half with a 47-20 lead.
The second half started with Paschall showing why he was put on the Naismith trophy watch list before the season. In 20 minutes, he put up 11 points on an efficient 4-of-6 shooting while adding 8 rebounds and 3 assists, showing just how dynamic of a player he can be. The rest of the second half consisted of head coach Jay Wright testing out new players Jahvon Quinerly, Joe Cremo, Cole Swider and Saddiq Bey in various different lineups. Each showed some first year jitters, but flashed the immense talent they all possess.
The main story line for this game, though, was Baker Dunleavy’s return to Villanova after playing for and later becoming an assistant coach to Jay Wright. Dunleavy was treated to a harsh welcome as his team fell behind by 37 at one point in the first half. Quinnipiac was led by senior guard Cameron Young and junior guard Travis Atson who combined for 29 points.