MILWAUKEE -- Scottie Reynolds knows the ball is going to be in his hands at the end of a tight game.
That doesn't always mean Villanova's senior guard takes the decisive shot -- but he's expected to read the defense and make something happen.
He did both on Saturday, hitting a shot in the lane with 18.1 seconds left to give No. 8 Villanova the lead, and the Wildcats held on to beat Marquette 74-72 in their Big East opener.
After watching Tim Tebow play his final game for Florida's football team the night before, Villanova coach Jay Wright drew a comparison to his own team's leader.
"You can just see how much everybody loves [Tebow] -- his teammates, his coaches," Wright said. "Scotty's the same way for us."
Reynolds scored 23 points, including 16 in the second half, and freshman reserve Maalik Wayns tied a season high with 16 points for the Wildcats (12-1, 1-0).
Jimmy Butler had 19 points and Lazar Hayward added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Golden Eagles (9-5, 0-2), who blew their second chance to knock off a ranked conference rival this week. Marquette also frittered away a late lead at West Virginia on Tuesday night.
Missed free throws figured prominently in both games.
Marquette coach Buzz Williams said his team should expect to be in close games the rest of the season, and needs to figure out how to win them.
"We can get better, or we can get bitter," Williams said.
Marquette managed to hang with Villanova despite going 7 for 24 from 3-point range.
The Golden Eagles shot over 60 percent from long range in each of their previous two games, including a 10-for-16 performance in the loss at West Virginia.
Wright said he expects Marquette to rebound.
"It's not going to break them," Wright said.
But Wright hopes it doesn't happen too soon -- Villanova faces Marquette at home next Saturday.
Reynolds was 3 for 4 from the field and scored seven points in the first half, and wasn't pleased with his play.
"Coach knew that, and I knew that," Reynolds said. "And I wanted to come out and set a spark."
Caught in a close game in the second half, Reynolds tried to rally his teammates during a timeout.
"I was just looking at my teammates and saying, 'We need this win,"' Reynolds said. "We needed to establish ourselves, create our own identity."
But Marquette took a 69-67 lead on David Cubillan's 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 4:10 left in the game, and Villanova's Reggie Redding missed a pair of free throws.
A Villanova foul then sent Darius Johnson-Odom to the line, but he missed both.
Redding went back to the line on Villanova's next possession and hit both to tie it at 69.
Butler then was fouled on a drive to the basket, hitting a pair of free throws to put Marquette up 71-69 with 1:49 left. A loose ball then went out of bounds on the other end, giving the ball back to the Golden Eagles.
A foul on Hayward sent Redding back to the line, and he again hit both to tie the game with 56.5 seconds left.
After a miss on Marquette's end, Hayward was fouled on a rebound -- and he left the first one short off the front of the rim but hit the second for a 1-point lead with 27.4 seconds left.
Reynolds then hit a shot in the lane with 18.1 seconds left, and was fouled by Johnson-Odom on the play.
Reynolds missed the free throw, and Butler got a wide-open look under the basket -- but he missed inside, and Marquette picked up a loose-ball foul, sending Redding back to the line.
Redding hit one of two, putting Villanova up 74-72 with 2.6 seconds left.
Marquette couldn't get a shot off on its final play.
"If we keep working the way we're working, something has to give, something has to change," Hayward said. "We can't keep working as hard as we are, and things like this keep happening."