Korea falls to Norway in women's handball semifinals
Korea lost to Norway 31-25 in the women's handball semifinals at the London Olympics Thursday.
Its defense exposed by nimble Norwegians, South Korea never led after scoring first in the second minute.
Holding an 18-15 lead at halftime, Norway opened a six-goal cushion midway through the second half, thanks to a series of defensive stops and quick goals in transition.
Korea, undone by turnovers and botched passes, hardly threatened to come close. Linn-Kristin Riegelhuth Koren and Heidi Loke made it 30-24 with three minutes left to put the game out of reach.
Norwegian goalkeeper Katrine Lunde Haraldsen turned aside nine South Korean shots in the second half to keep her opponents at bay.
Loke led all scorers with eight points, and Kristine Lunde-Borgersen chipped in with six. Gwon Han-na was the leading scorer for Korea with seven. South Korea will face Spain in the bronze medal match Saturday.
Korea trailed by as much as 13-7 midway through the first half before going on an 8-3 scoring run over an eight-minute stretch. But down just 16-15, South Korea failed to score over the final five minutes of the first half as Norway pulled away to make it 18-15 at halftime.
Norway toyed with the Korean defense both in half-court sets and in transition, breaking down the back line with quick bounce passes to set up open shots.
South Korean left back Shim Hae-in, a key contributor on both offense and defense, left the game about 10 minutes into the match after injuring her right hand in a fall. She later left the arena with her right forearm in a thick cast.
After the game, South Korean head coach Kang Jae-won said Shim appears to have broken the arm and may be unavailable for the bronze medal match. He said he would try to help the rest of the team regroup in time for the final game.
"A lot of our players cried in the lockers, and I told them they had to forget about today fast," he said. "We have one more game to play. In the Olympics, there is a huge difference between third and fourth place."
South Korea and Norway played to a 27-27 draw in group play earlier. This was also a rematch of the semifinal contest from Beijing, when Norway won 29-28 on a last-second score.
South Korea has won a handball medal in six of the past seven Olympics, and can make it seven out of eight by winning the bronze medal match Saturday.(LONDON=Yonhap)