Updated: January 5, 2013 10:34PM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Cleveland Melvin scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead DePaul to an 83-73 win over cold-shooting Providence on Saturday night.
Brandon Young and Jamee Crockett each had 15 points for DePaul (10-5, 1-1 Big East). The Blue Demons snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 4-0 on the road, their best start away from home since winning the initial five to start the 1993-94 season.
The Blue Demons led by seven at halftime, opened it to double digits early in the second half and never had their lead fall below 11 points until the closing 2 1/2 minutes.
Providence’s Bryce Cotton, the Big East’s second-leading scorer at 21.5 points per game, had 20 points, 16 coming in the closing 3 1/2 minutes. He was 4 of 13 from the floor.
Kadeem Batts had 17 points and Vincent Council added 16 points and six assists for the Friars (8-6, 0-2), who shot 38 percent (24 of 63) and missed their initial 10 3-point attempts.
DePaul, which led 37-30 at the half, turned its full court press into a pair of easy baskets by Crockett in the opening minute of the second half. Melvin then nailed a turnaround bank shot, giving the Blue Demons a 43-30 lead with 17:25 to play and forcing Providence to call time-out out with boos echoing from the home crowd.
The Blue Demons continued to build their lead while the Friars kept missing shots, using a 9-0 run to pull to a 59-38 advantage on Moses Morgan’s put-back with 11 1/2 minutes left. Providence missed 11 of its first 14 shots in the opening 8 minutes of the second half.
Donnavan Kirk’s 3-point play gave DePaul a 62-40 lead with 9:52 left.
The Friars used a press of their own to get a few steals in a late charge, closing it to 70-60 on Cotton’s 3-pointer with 2:37 to go. Cotton had another 3 and a free throw to make it 72-64 with just under 2 minutes left.
In the first half, neither team held more than a two-possession lead until the Blue Demons scored the final six points of the half, taking a 37-30 edge into intermission.
In the sloppily played opening 20 minutes that lacked any flow, mainly caused by the Blue Demons’ half and fullcourt trapping defense that had Providence struggling to get into its offensive sets, the Friars started ice cold from the floor and missed eight of their initial 10 shots. DePaul was even worse, making just 2 of 11, forcing a handful of long jumpers against Providence’s 2-3 zone defense. The Blue Demons couldn’t figure out how to get the ball inside in the early minutes.
The Friars, coming off an 18-point loss at No. 4 Louisville on Wednesday, led 22-17 before Melvin scored all nine points during a 9-2 run over a 1:47 stretch that pushed DePaul ahead for the rest of the half.
Cotton didn’t start and was held without a basket until he had a fast-break layup with 1:37 left in the half, cutting it to 31-30 before the Blue Demons had the final six points of the half.
The Blue Demons lost their conference opener by one point at home against Seton Hall.