New York fought back from a nine-point deficit in the second quarter and capped it off with an 8-0 run to open the third en route to a 64-57 win against Connecticut Thursday night.
The Sun (7-6), the WNBA's second-best three-point shooting team, was rolling from behind the arc early, but it was the Liberty's (9-5) paint play that dominated.
"After the second quarter, we knew the guards had to do better defensively," Tina Charles said. "Stopping their momentum helped us get going in the second half."
Charles finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season. Kiah Stokes broke the franchise record (six) in blocks with eight and added seven points and eight rebounds.
"I have to keep her on the floor. That's saying a lot. She is only 22 and can provide the kind of energy that we need," Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer said. "She anchors our defense ... The kid can guard everybody in the gym. She can guard guards, and she has this year.
"If there's a better defender in this league, I don't see it. There may be some as good as her but not any better."
Stokes said she was glad to be making an impact on the team, but she seemed focus on the bigger picture.
"We had to make sure we came out ready to play because they're fighting for the same position as we are," she said. "We want to make it to the top of the Eastern Conference and so do they. We knew they were going to come out fighting, so we made sure we were focused and ready to go."
The Liberty narrowly outscored the Sun in the paint 22-20, but outrebounded the Sun 41-32.
"This is the biggest team we've faced thus far and probably the most physical team, but you know that's New Yorks identity," Sun head coach Ann Donovan said. "We really wanted to come at them and get some inside action and get some points in the paint, but you have to give New York some credit, they made our lives difficult."
It was the third 3-pointer from Shekinna Stricklen that put the Sun up by nine, 25-19, at the 7:18 mark of the second quarter. The team made four in the quarter, but finished just 7-of-19, 36.8 percent.
Stricklen finished with 11 points, along with Kelsey Bone, and Alex Bentley led the Sun with 15 points.
New York reached its largest lead, 62-54, with 5:28 left to play, and Connecticut scored just three points the remainder of the game.
The loss extended the Sun's loss streak to five straight.
"Obviously we're struggling a little bit," Donovan said. "We started out 7-1, and I knew there were going to be roller coasters in the season, and we're facing a valley now that we're equipped to handle, and we will."