TACOMA, Washington (AP) – True to form, Seattle Storm forward Tina Thompson fought to the bitter end, making a driving layup with 1:20 left that nearly extended her playing career one more game.
It wasn’t to be.
Seimone Augustus hit a 15-foot jumper with 21.1 seconds left and the Minnesota Lynx held off Seattle and Thompson for a 58-55 victory Sunday and a sweep of the best-of-three Western Conference semifinal series.
Afterward, Maya Moore and the rest of the Lynx paid Thompson the ultimate compliment when they asked her to pose with them for a team photo following the final game of her 17-year WNBA career.
“I think it’s just kind of a reality check that this is a biggest basketball moment,” Moore said. “We have so much respect for her. We just battled it out with her and tried to shut her down every time we could, but we wanted to honor her and get a picture. It was kind of childlike and beautiful.”
Moore scored 22 points and Rebekkah Brunson had 15 points and 13 rebounds for Minnesota, which won the WNBA title in 2011 and lost to Indiana in last year’s finals.
The Lynx open the Western Conference finals this week against the winner of the Los Angeles-Phoenix series, which will be decided on Monday.
Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve fought back tears while talking about Thompson during the postgame news conference.
“I’m sad to see Tina go,” Reeve said. “She was a great player. I feel the same as her son. I want her to keep playing.”
Thompson’s layup put the Storm up 55-54 with 1:20 remaining, giving them their first lead since late in the second quarter.
But Augustus responded with her jumper from the right side and Brunson hit two free throws with 11.6 second left for the final margin.
“She’s amazing,” Moore said of the shot by Augustus, who finished with 10 points. “We always have confidence in Seimone. She kind of took over in that last moment of being isolated on the wing and made a move and rose up and it went in and I did a silent fist pump. Then we thought we just need to get a stop.”
Noelle Quinn missed a driving layup in the final seconds for Seattle, which rebounded the miss but couldn’t get off another shot in the game played at the Tacoma Dome because KeyArena in Seattle was unavailable due to a scheduling conflict with a Microcsoft event.
Thompson had 13 points and nine rebounds in the final game of her 17-year career. She announced before the season that she would retire at the end of the year. The 38-year-old forward is the WNBA’s career scoring leader and won four league titles with Houston.
“It’s not that tough,” Thompson said about ending her playing career. “I already knew there was going to be an end and a final game although I did not predict when that final game would be. I can walk away and feel OK with how we finished because we gave as much as we could possibly give.
“I’ve always wanted to retire from the game and not the game retire from me. So when I leave on my own terms, it’s a lot easier to kind of settle with.”
Thompson enjoyed posing with the Lynx for a photo.
“I guess it was pretty cool,” Thompson said. “This will probably be the last time we will be in uniform and competing against each other. I will probably try to get that picture from them as a kind of moment in the history of my career as well as theirs.”
Tanisha Wright led Seattle with 16 points. Camille Little added 14 points as the Storm lost in the first round to the Lynx for the second straight year. Seattle made its league record 10th consecutive playoff appearance.
The Lynx beat the Storm 2-1 in last year’s Western Conference semifinals.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)