Notts County player Bassett, a key factor in the team’s run to the semi-finals, cruelly netted when her attempt to put the ball out for a corner went in instead against Japan.
That gave the Asian nation a chance to retain the trophy against Olympic champions USA on Sunday and Bassett was inconsolable after the final whistle.
Houghton, her central defensive partner, chose to focus on the positives Bassett has displayed in Canada rather than the moment which will receive most focus.
The England captain, fouled for the penalty that allowed Mark Sampson’s side to make it 1-1, said: “It’s up to me and the experienced players to try to pick everybody up and Laura has been outstanding in this tournament.
“She has been a pleasure to play alongside and no matter what anybody says, what’s commented on or reported, it’s without a doubt not her fault.
“It’s a team game and that’s what we always said from the beginning, that we were all together. There have been many times when she has pulled us out and stopped goals going in.
“My thoughts are to go and cheer her up and try to make sure she still feels part of this team. She’s a massive leader and a very, very good professional.”
Houghton’s Manchester City team-mate Toni Duggan added: “Laura’s the best team-mate I’ve ever had, an amazing role model and the way she’s performed in this tournament has been amazing.
“She’s been our rock and for it to happen to Bass – or for it to happen to any of our team-mates – I can’t even explain what’s going through her head but we’ll get round her and pick her up.”
Although England can now only finish third with a win against Germany in Edmonton this weekend, they will record their highest-ever position at the finals in Canada.
Having got to the quarter-finals three times previously and lost, Reading’s Fran Kirby takes heart from the advances being made.
She said: “All I want to do is inspire the younger generation coming through so they can aspire to be like us now.
“I want them to say: ‘England got to the semi-final, when I grow up I want to win the thing.’ That’s the mentality I’ve had since I was eight years old.
“They were getting around the quarter-final stage and I thought: ‘No, we’re going to get there and we’re going to win it when I’m there.’
“Obviously it has been a difficult time today but if I look back at the memories I’ve got of this World Cup, they’re pretty special and I’m never going to forget them.”