But Brothers' burst of brilliance wasn't enough for the Spiders to keep up indefinitely with the more-balanced Explorers, who had a nice 1-2 punch of their own in junior guard Ramon Galloway and freshman forward Jerrell Wright. Galloway had 14 points by intermission and Wright 12.
Coach John Giannini's club stayed somewhat comfortably ahead the rest of the way in winning, 80-72.
La Salle (21-11) has been something of a revelation in this turnaround season, winning 20 games for the first time since the 1991-92 campaign, and the Explorers should not be discounted heading into Friday's quarterfinal matchup in Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall with No. 2 seed Saint Louis (24-6), which had a first-round bye. If the Explorers are on their game, they will be more than a handful for any team in the A-10 Tournament. Just ask the top-seeded Temple Owls, the A-10 regular-season champions, who escaped Gola Arena with an 80-79 overtime victory on Feb. 22.
"They're a very good team, difficult to defense, especially when they're shooting well, which they usually do," Richmond coach Chris Mooney said.
Such recognition from his peers feels pretty satisfying to Giannini and his players, who thought they were building toward something special when the season began, and they just might be doing that.
"Every day, I'm so impressed with how good this league is," Giannini said of the A-10, whose members like to think of themselves as something more than Big East Light. "To finish in the top half of the standings, you're not only a good team in the league, you're just a good team, period."
La Salle looked like a good team against Richmond (16-16), which defeated the visiting Explorers, 78-76, on Feb. 8 when burly forward Derrick Williams went off for a game-high 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Williams found the going tougher this time, finishing with 14 points and 10 boards, while being hounded in the lane by Wright, who was limited to 16 minutes because of foul trouble, and Devon White.
Brothers, after his first-half breakout, had to work hard thereafter as Galloway, sacrificing his own offense, took on the difficult defensive assignment of limiting his looks.
"It's probably crazy to say we did a good job on somebody who got 31, but I think we did against Brothers in the second half," Giannini said.
"I felt he was kind of carrying his team," Galloway said. "Knowing that we preached defense all year, I wanted to play him so bad. I just tried to stay in front of him and not let him get any open threes, to just keep moving my feet, to put pressure on him and make him drive."
In a frenetic, fast-paced opening 20 minutes that featured seven ties and seven lead changes, La Salle finally provided itself with some much-needed breathing room after another pull-up jumper by Brothers leveled the count at 29-29. But Sam Mills scored on a fastbreak layup, triggering an 11-4 spurt that served to lessen the home crowd's anxiety.
La Salle led, 40-33, at intermission, and remained ahead thereafter, padding its lead to 15 points with soph guard Tyreek Duren hit a fallaway jumper to make it 70-55 with 3 minutes, 58 remaining. Brothers and guard Cedrick Linday, who had 17 points, could not offset La Salle's quartet of double-digit scorers as Galloway led the way with 17, followed by Earl Pettis with 15, Wright with 14 and White with 13.
The Explorers were solid all around, shooting 50 percent (26-for-52) from the field, 8-for-17 from deep and 20-for-24 free throws. They also managed 19 assists on their 26 baskets, came up with eight steals and turned the ball over 11 times, several of those coming in the last 2 minutes as the Spiders frantically pressed.
The La Salle victory snapped a four-game losing streak against the Spiders, whose five-player senior class' only chance to break the school record of 91 victories over four seasons hinges on whether they get a bid to the NIT.