After watching his team blow leads ranging from nine to 12 points in its three losses, Temple coach Fran Dunphy was glad to see the Owls prevail in a tight game.
"I think we're still a work in progress," he said. "We need to continue to understand how much it takes, how good we have to be defensively, how well-intentioned we need to be offensively."
Up to the final minute, neither team managed to build a lead of more than five points. The Hawks (4-3, 0-1) trailed by five with 5:44 to play before Langston Galloway scored five straight, including his sixth three-point basket of the game, to tie it at 65-all with 4:28 remaining.
Lee gave Temple the lead for good with a layup at the 2:10 mark. After Quenton DeCosey sank one free throw, Lee took a pass from Cummings, who squeezed between two bodies in the lane and converted a layup for a 70-65 advantage with 1:03 remaining.
After Ronald Roberts sank a follow-up basket for the Hawks, Lee went to the line for two free throws. He sank the first and missed the second, but weaved his way past four St. Joseph's players in the lane to run down the rebound.
Lee was fouled and hit two more free throws, putting the Owls in front, 73-67, with 25.3 seconds left.
Dunphy put Lee's performance together with his 21-point outburst in last year's upset of Syracuse, and a 16-point, 11-rebound performance on Nov. 24 against Alabama-Birmingham.
"I thought his game against UAB was his best game since Syracuse," Dunphy said. "I told him you have to give us that every single night and I think he came close to that tonight."
Galloway scored 24 points for the Hawks, who never led after the 11:52 mark, but managed to stay close.
"Our guys really are strong-character young guys," St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli said. "But on the basketball court tonight, we made some plays that were young, that with our age we shouldn't make - a missed dunk, missed layups, dropped balls, simple assignments like blocking out a shooter. So that's on me."