Holders Japan progressed to Sunday’s deciding match with the USA – just as they did in Germany four years ago – with a 2-1 win in Edmonton on Wednesday.
After the teams traded goals from the penalty spot, despite there being strong cases for neither kick to have been awarded, it seemed as if the match was heading for extra-time.
But Notts County defender Bassett steered a dangerous right-wing cross over her own goalkeeper Karen Bardsley’s head and into the top corner of the net to give the Japanese victory.
The ball bounced down off the crossbar and out of the net before being hacked clear, but England’s efforts were in vain as the goal was awarded by New Zealand referee Anna-Marie Keighley.
Bassett was left distraught and manager Sampson and her team-mates were quick to rally round her after the final whistle brought English hopes to an end.
He told Sky Sports News HQ: “We put those emotions to one side and got around one of our own. We got around Bassett and said: ‘Look, don’t be afraid to cry. Don’t be afraid to cry, let it all out’.
“That woman has epitomised what this team is about and I mean that as a football player and as a person.
“We’ll know that tomorrow morning some young girl in England who Bassett has never met in her life will pick up a ball and say: ‘Mum, I want to be Laura Bassett.’
“If she was your girlfriend, your wife, your daughter, your sister or your friend, you’d be a very lucky person to have Laura Bassett in your life.
“We’re proud of her. She’ll be proud of what she has done for this team tomorrow morning and the family will rally round her tonight. So will the team.”
England have one more game to play, the unpopular third-place play-off with former champions Germany in Edmonton on Saturday.
Although the team can no longer win the tournament, they have gone further in the event than any other English side previously and Sampson wants to build further.
He added: “What this team have done for the women’s game back home, I know will have a lasting legacy. The way this team has gone out, as hard as it is, will make them even bigger heroes.
“Some had to be the trailblazers. Some had to step out and say: ‘We are going to be the difference makers, we are going to be the catalyst.’
“But as a group, we are going to keep this ball rolling. Come on everyone back home, let’s raise the bar. Let’s build on what this team has done.
“I know I am going to demand that everyone back home really ups their game and we commit everything we can to keep growing this sport in our country.
“It has been a brilliant experience. We’ve got one more to go, we’ll dust ourselves down, put our jerseys on and let’s put a shift in again.”