La Salle made 11-of-12 shots in a 10 1/2 minute period of the second half to get their first leads of the game, 62-61, and then 65-64, with 7:24 left to play.
Temple (19-12) took the lead back on Dionte Christmas' trey and extended the margin to 73-67 with 4:37 on the clock. The Explorers' 8-0 run capped by a Darnell Harris three-pointer put the Blue & Gold ahead, 75-73, with 2:15 to go.
Sergio Olmos' jump shot at 1:57 tied the game. Fouled on the play, Olmos had a chance to put the Owls back on top. He missed the free throw giving La Salle another lift.
Harris missed a trey. Chris Clark was fouled on the rebound and made both from the charity stripe for Temple's 77-75 lead. The Owls scored the next seven points, four on free throws and a trey by Clark, to seal the victory.
Christmas led all scorers with 29 points, 19 in the first half, shooting 8-for-15 from the floor and 11-of-14 from the foul line. Olmos and Mark Tyndale each tallied 14 and Clark added 12 points. Tyndale had a game-best 10 rebounds and team-high six assists. Christmas and Clark each had a pair of steals.
Temple scored the first nine points of the game, extended their first half lead to as many as 12 points, and took a 43-35 edge to the locker rooms.
The Owls opened the second half with six straight points for a 14-point 49-35 lead after less than two minutes had been played.
Rodney Green's layup at 17:49 started a 10 1/2 minute, 30-15 run by the Explorers during which La Salle made 11 of 12 shots from the floor.
The Explorers grabbed their first lead of the game, 63-61, and then regained it on Kimmani Barret's layup with 7:24 left to play and a one-point edge over the Owls, 65-54.
Temple had two runs, La Salle one as the number two seed Owls gained a slot in tomorrow's A-10 semifinal against the winner of Thursday's last quarterfinal between #6 Charlotte (19-12) and #3 Massachusetts (21-9).
Harris, who was averaging 45.5 percent overall shooting and a better 48.6% from beyond the arc, also scored 18 points but made just 5-of-13 shots, and was 3-of-10 from 3-point range. (Harris has already been invited to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament for prospective NBA draft picks.)
Mbala grabbed six rebounds, Green was credited with seven assists and Harris had two steals.