MINNEAPOLIS — Seimone Augustus rose for the shot with less than three seconds left. It was one of those picture-perfect pull-ups that, once they leave the shooter’s hand, seem destined to rattle home.
That’s especially the case with the Lynx’s seasoned small forward. She’s been doing this for years, both when Minnesota was a WNBA laughingstock and a perennial championship contender.
And even while sporting the old 3-0 next to her name on the roster, even with Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen alongside for yet another ride, Augustus remains one of women’s basketball’s deadliest closers.
The play Sunday against Connecticut was originally designed for Whalen. It’d failed once, with the home-grown point guard dribbling the ball out of bounds, and Whalen was heavily guarded this time around. So the inbound pass went to Augustus, the last option on the play, whose calm jumper sent the game to overtime.
Moore’s second-half outburst got the Lynx back in the game. Whalen finished it off. But in between, Augustus hit the clutch shot.
"I think I’m somebody that’s always going to err on the side of, going down the stretch, living and dying by your horses," head coach Cheryl Reeve said.
And Augustus doesn’t feel anywhere closer to surrendering her thoroughbred status.
Reminded at the team’s media day she turned 30 on April 30, she half-playfully lamented the fact. "You had to bring that up? I’m old," she quipped. "You talking like I’m 50. People start talking about retirement and everything when you turn 30."
But in all seriousness, Augustus says she "feels great" and expects to be the same player that’s averaged at least 16 points per game each of her eight completed WNBA campaigns and ranks as the leading scorer in Lynx history.
She’s done it through the lows, never winning more than 16 games from 2006-10. Her first playoff appearance, in 2011, she scored 22 points per game and earned Finals MVP honors as Minnesota claimed its first championship.
Help had arrived by then, in the form of Whalen, Moore and power forward Rebekkah Brunson. Augustus was no longer relied upon as the team’s sole source of offensive punch.
With teams forced to pay heavy attention to Moore and Whalen, Augustus has averaged 16 points per game the past three seasons and is shooting 50.3 percent from the field. Last season, she started 31 games and shot 51.6 percent, her best mark since 2009 when she only appeared in six games due to a torn ACL.
But that lost season marks her only significant missed time to date.
Since 2013, Augustus, Whalen, Janel McCarville and Monica Wright have signed multiyear extensions that keep the club’s championship core intact for the long haul.
"I think that’s just a great indicator of how good everybody feels about the situation here," Reeve said. "We always talk about (how) it’s a special part of our franchise’s history."
Particularly for Augustus, the third-oldest player on the roster behind Brunson, 33, and Tan White, 31. That trio has a chance to follow in the footsteps of WNBA sages like Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Tina Thompson, both of whom played into their late 30s before calling it quits.
"It feels great to be healthy and to be here," Augustus said. "I think that has to do with being around a lot of experienced players . . . players that have kept themselves in great shape to be able to play a long time."