Not many of those successful shots came in the second half, where the Wildcats shot 6 for 23 and committed nine of their 15 turnovers.
Penn was paced by senior guard Miles Jackson-Cartwright, who scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half. Freshman point guard Tony Bagtas, making his first start for Penn, had 7 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds for the Quakers.
"I thought Tony was great," Penn coach Jerome Allen said. "He played at the right pace, and I thought he didn't necessarily allow them to rush him."
Villanova missed its first 14 shots in the second half and didn't hit a bucket until Hilliard scored on a driving layup to boost the Wildcats' lead to 52-41 with 9:55 remaining.
Penn (2-5) wasn't able to make a serious dent into the lead after that. The Quakers committed 14 of their 24 turnovers in the second half.
The Wildcats survived a rough shooting night from Ryan Arcidiacono, who shot 1 for 9 from three-point range.
Trailing by 46-28 at halftime, Penn scored the first seven points of the second half, but the Quakers didn't take full advantage of the fact that Villanova couldn't buy a basket.
The Wildcats scored the game's first 11 points and led by as many as 22 before settling for an 18-point halftime margin.
On Monday, Villanova earned the No. 14 ranking in the Associated Press poll. It was the Wildcats' first time in the poll since being ranked 19th on Feb. 28, 2011. Villanova is ranked 19th in the USA Today coaches' poll.
Facing Penn could have been a trap game since Villanova visits Big Five rival St. Joseph's on Saturday. Wright said there was no looking behind or ahead, only straight at Penn.
"There are no sandwich games for us," Wright said. "This was a big game for us and any time we get to play, it is a big game."