NEWARK -- The Liberty offense still is a work in progress. But even a problematic offense can be overcome on a given night.

What couldn't be overcome was another bad third quarter. The Liberty had no answers in the second half Saturday night in an 88-66 loss to the Connecticut Sun at the Prudential Center.

The Liberty led 34-33 at the break, but the Sun opened the third quarter with an 18-6 run for a 51-40 lead with 4:17 left.

The Sun outscored the Liberty 27-14 in the third quarter and led 60-48 after three.

"We missed shots, they made theirs. They capitalized off that energy," Cappie Pondexter said. "When you're a team and you're not making shots, you don't focus in defensively. And I think they got a lot of second-chance points and they hit threes."

The Liberty has been outscored 122-65 in the third quarter of their last five losses.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"They came out and wanted the game more than we did in the third quarter," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. "They played harder, they executed better. We got stagnant and they started making shots."

Former Christ the King All-American Tina Charles led Connecticut (6-12) with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

The loss overshadowed another solid offensive performance by center Kara Braxton, who led the Liberty (8-12) with 18 points. Pondexter and Plenette Pierson added 17 points each.

"It's just me focusing in," the 6-6 Braxton said. "I just was in a little slump. My team and the organization needed me. I had to step up coming out of the All-Star break."

It was the second straight double-digit scoring performance for Braxton, who had a season-high 22 points in Wednesday's victory over Washington.

"She's making great progress right now," Laimbeer said. "She's confident in herself and that's a big bonus for us. Now we have to incorporate that more into our offense."

Braxton's improved play, along with Pierson's continued solid performances in the paint, could make things easier for the rest of the offense.

"It's always a good thing when other players step up because it allows everyone else to get open and have better looks," Braxton said. "Anything extra that any teammate can contribute is a plus for our team."